According to an NBC News report, The U.S. secretly traced a massive cyberespionage operation against the 2008 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain to hacking units backed by the People’s Republic of China, prompting high level warnings to Chinese officials to stop such activities, U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News.
The disclosure on the eve of a two-day summit between the U.S. and Chinese presidents highlights what has become a persistent source of tension between the two global powers: Beijing’s aggressive, orchestrated campaign to pierce America’s national security armor at any weak point – in this case the computers and laptops of top campaign aides and advisers who received high-level briefings.
The goal of the campaign intrusion, according to the officials: to export massive amounts of internal data from both campaigns—including internal position papers and private emails of key advisers in both camps.
The intrusion into the campaigns’ computer networks and subsequent efforts to penetrate them were highly sophisticated and continued for months after they were first detected by the FBI in the summer of 2008, according to the officials and an Obama campaign security consultant hired to thwart them. The intrusions and some details of what was targeted have been previously reported, but not publicly attributed to government-backed Chinese hackers.