UPDATE 2-Obama vows to boost U.S. cyber defenses amid signs of China hacking
(Recasts throughout; adds comments from officials, bylines, WASHINGTON dateline)
By Jeff Mason and Mark Hosenball
KRUEN, Germany/WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama vowed on Monday that the United States would aggressively bolster its cyber defenses, as U.S. officials said the probe into a massive breach of federal government networks has yielded growing signs of a direct Chinese role.
Obama stopped short of pointing the finger at Beijing for the recent cyber attack, which threatens to overshadow broader annual U.S.-China talks in Washington this month at a time when tensions are already high over Beijing's pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea.
"We have to be as nimble, as aggressive and as well-resourced as those who are trying to break into these systems," Obama told a news conference at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Germany.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have blamed Chinese hackers for breaching the computers of the Office of Personnel Management and compromising the records of up to four million current and former employees in one of the biggest known attacks on U.S. federal networks.
The mission of the intruders, the officials said, appears to have been to steal personal information for recruiting spies and ultimately to seek access to weapons plans and industrial secrets.
Though China has denied involvement, U.S. investigators looking into the computer break-in, which was disclosed on Thursday, have uncovered "markings," or digital signatures, left by the hackers that indicate it was likely an official Chinese government operation, two officials said on Monday.
They did not, however, offer further details as to how they reached that conclusion. Continued...