Last month, millions of current and former US government employees had their personal information stolen in a hack believed to have originated from China — and the US may finally respond with more than words. According to a new report from The New York Times, President Obama has decided to retaliate against China, though his administration has not decided exactly how it will respond. The Times, citing an anonymous senior administration official, says the government wants to make a public response in an effort to deter future similar attacks.
The White House is reportedly weighing whether to employ a symbolic response, such as a diplomatic protest, or something more aggressive. Regardless of what the response will be, the Times says that the Obama administration decided to respond because of the wide "scope and ambition" of the Office of Personnel Management attack. One potential response named in the report involves breaching China's famed "great firewall" to embarrass the Chinese government and damage its ability to control what its citizens can and cannot see on the internet.
Broadcasting the threat of retaliation, even in a vague "all options are on the table" kind of way, could be the beginning of the response. At this point, however, the government still has not made an official statement accusing China of being behind last month's theft, though director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. made it clear in earlier comments that the government considered China to be at fault.