US and China bumping fists

The United States is drawing up economic sanctions to target Chinese firms and individuals that profited from cyber attacks on American targets, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The report, citing administration officials, said President Barack Obama’s government has not yet decided whether to put the sanctions in place but is now preparing the ground.

It tells China, enough is enough

“It sends a signal to Beijing that the administration is going to start fighting back on economic espionage,” an unnamed US official told the Post.

In May, US prosecutors unsealed indictments leveling spying charges against five Chinese military personnel they believe hacked into US networks to profit Chinese firms.

The sanctions, if they come about, would be designed to counter the unfair advantage Washington fears Beijing has developed by illegally gathering US economic intelligence.

But there is also deep concern here about a series of hacks apparently aimed at gathering political intelligence, some of them blamed on hackers with Chinese or Russian links.

On Monday, citing US intelligence officials, the Los Angeles Times said Russian and Chinese foreign spy services are cross-indexing hacked databases to identify American agents.

Recent breaches of US federal government personnel files and email systems, when combined with private data such as medical record and airline bookings, could leave US spies exposed.