- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2015

President Obama refused to blame China publicly Monday for a massive cyberattack on the U.S. government, but said Washington must boost its digital defenses because hackers are “sending everything they’ve got” at American computer networks.

“We haven’t publicly unveiled who we think may have engaged in these cyberattacks,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference at the G-7 summit in Germany. “This problem is not going to go away. It is going to accelerate. We have to be as nimble, as aggressive and as well-resourced as those who are trying to break into these systems.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday the Chinese government was likely responsible for the attack, which may have compromised the personal data of 4 million current and former federal employees.

“It qualifies as espionage, and it raises all sorts of issues that we need to deal with,” Mr. McCaul said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

In his first public comments on the attack, Mr. Obama blamed Congress for not approving cyber-security legislation that the White House sent to lawmakers in January.

“This is why it’s so important that Congress moves forward on passing cyber security legislation that we’ve been pushing for,” Mr. Obama said. “Part of the problem is that we’ve got very old systems. What we are doing is going agency by agency, figuring out what can we fix … This is going to be a big project and we’re going to have to keep on doing it, because both state and non-state actors are sending everything they’ve got at trying to breach these systems.”

House Republicans noted last week that they already have passed other bipartisan cyber-security legislation, but the measures have been stalled in the Senate.

The president said some of the computer breaches aimed at the U.S. are perpetrated by criminals, and some by agents of foreign governments.

“In some cases, it’s non-state [actors] engaging in criminal activity and potential theft,” the president said. “In the case of state actors, they’re probing for intelligence or, in some cases, trying to bring down systems in pursuit of their various foreign-policy objectives. In either case, we’re going to have to be much more aggressive, much more attentive than we have been.”

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