Director of Intelligence James Clapper told members of the House Intelligence Committee Thursday that information stolen in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach hasn't been used against U.S. interests yet but that a real threat remains it will be misused.
“There's been no evidence to this point of the use of this data in a nefarious way,” said Clapper, who referred to the breach an act of "passive intelligence collection activity" similar to that done by the U.S. rather than a cyberattack.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, accused Clapper of downplaying the incident, saying that “many of us view this as simply more than just data mining.” He noted that officials had no way of knowing if the information was being used maliciously and couldn't yet determine the full effect the breach.
Clapper acknowledged that intelligence personnel, "particularly those assigned overseas," could "potentially" be at risk since the breach exposed sensitive information on candidates seeking security clearance.
A number of government officials and cybersecurity professionals have said that Chinese and Russian intelligence services are using personally identifiable information (PII) obtained from the OPM and Ashley Madison hacks to amass databases on the American intelligence community and use it for counter terrorism measures.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John Brennan, and other officials also testified before the Committee during what was billed as a hearing on worldwide cyber threats.