The right-wing Washington Free Beacon is reporting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' National Inventory of Dams (NID) was accessed by "an unauthorized user believed to be from China" starting in January of this year.

The breach apparently wasn't uncovered until April, and all user names and passwords were changed following its discovery.

It's not clear, though, how the unauthorized access was obtained -- Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Pete Pierce told the Free Beacon in a statement, "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is aware that access to the National Inventory of Dams (NID), to include sensitive fields of information not generally available to the public, was given to an unauthorized individual in January 2013 who was subsequently determined to not have proper level of access for the information."


According to the Free Beacon's Bill Gertz, the NID contains information on the vulnerabilities of each of the approximately 8,100 major dams in the United States, and categorizes the dams by the number of people who would be killed if a dam fails.

Former National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave told the Beacon, "In the wrong hands, the Army Corps of Engineers' database could be a cyber attack roadmap for a hostile state or terrorist group to disrupt power grids or target dams in this country."