Chinese hackers exploited a flaw in SolarWinds software to break into U.S. government computers, according to reports from Reuters.
“Two people briefed on the case said FBI investigators recently found that the National Finance Center, a federal payroll agency inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was among the affected organizations, raising fears that data on thousands of government employees may have been compromised,” the outlet added.
The Chinese-led hack is distinct from the recent Russian cyberattack on SolarWinds, which compromised several U.S. federal agencies.
Among the data potentially included in the hack were “federal employee social security numbers, phone numbers and personal email addresses as well as banking information.”
“Depending on what data were compromised, this could be an extremely serious breach of security,” said Tom Warrick, a former senior official at the U.S Department of Homeland Security. “It could allow adversaries to know more about U.S. officials, improving their ability to collect intelligence.”