The CIA has withdrawn staff from the US embassy in Beijing as a result of a cyber attack that compromised the personal data of 21.5 million government employees over fear that data stolen from government computers could disclose its agents.
The US claims the persons responsible behind the cyber attack, at the US Office of Personnel Management, that exposed the fingerprints of 5.6 million government employees are Chinese hackers.
The US officials cited that data stolen include sensitive private information on recent, previous and even prospective government employees, as well as their family members and associates, which the CIA fears that the list of those who have been checked with the roster of known embassy personnel could help the Chinese disclose its intelligence workers.
While the CIA declined to comment directly on the matter in which China is allegedly involved, Beijing claims that it they are also victims of similar attacks.
A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hong Lei reiterated that position on Wednesday.
The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said the breach had "potentially very serious implications" for the intelligence community by identifying its agents in other countries saying, "this is a gift that's going to keep on giving for years," looking into the cyber-threats facing the US and the steps the nation is taking to combat them.
The US itself engaged in the types of cyber-attacks China had been accused of Clapper added saying, "we, too, practice cyber-espionage and we're not bad at it."