How To Tell If The Federal Data Breach Affects You, Because More Than Just Current Employees Should Be Concerned
A terrifying cybersecurity announcement was made Thursday when officials declared that approximately 4 million federal employees' personal information had been compromised. According to The New York Times, hackers breached the Office of Personnel Management's computer system late last year and the agency detected it in April. And it's not looking good — apparently the target was Social Security numbers and “personal identifying information,” the Times reported. But how do you know if the federal personnel hack affects you? The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) holds the records of not only federal employee records, but security clearances as well.
According to Reuters, it's not just current employees who should be concerned. The hack affects both current and former workers who were employed by the federal government. And with The Wall Street Journal reporting in 2014 that there are only 2,711,000 people employed with the federal government, that leaves a lot of room for former workers' information having been affected. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement:
The FBI is working with our interagency partners to investigate this matter. We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.
Basically, if you're a current or former federal employee, your personal data and information might very well have been affected. And it's not just workers in certain agencies, either. According to the Associated Press, the data breach could potentially affect workers in every agency of the federal government. Although OPM says it's still investigating exactly how impactful the breach was, the agency is allowing all current and former workers to request a free credit report and offering credit monitoring and identity theft insurance for 18 months to ensure their identities haven't been stolen.
Federal officials have said the breach originated in China and is apparently one of the largest intrusions on federal personnel data to have ever occurred, The New York Times reported. But, this isn't even the first time this year that OPM information has been comprised, according to The Washington Post. Rep. Adam Schiff, who is on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said, "The last few months have seen a series of massive data breaches that have affected millions of Americans."
Beyond offering employees the option to receive credit reports, the agency is also working to implement more tools and security precautions to prevent this sort of thing from happening. OPM director Katherine Archuleta said in a statement:
Protecting our federal employee data from malicious cyberincidents is of the highest priority at O.P.M. We take very seriously our responsibility to secure the information stored in our systems, and in coordination with our agency partners, our experienced team is constantly identifying opportunities to further protect the data with which we are entrusted.
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