Published On: Fri, Jun 12th, 2015

Federal employee hack reveals social security numbers not encrypted

Government officials are now detailing the magnitude of the December 2014 cyber attack which leaked personal information of atleast four million federal employees. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) did not even detect the hack for several months, which is being described as a “cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous.”

“We believe that the Central Personnel Data File was the targeted database, and that the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to one million former federal employees,” the President of the Union of American Federal of Government Employees (AFGE), J. David Cox, said in a letter to the (OPM) director Katherine Archuleta, seen by AP.

Photo: MoD/MOD

Photo: MoD/MOD

While US officials quickly blamed China for the attack, Beijing dismissed the claims saying that jumping to any conclusions and making hypothetical accusations was irresponsible and counterproductive.

Cox believes that the intruders might be actually in possession of all military records and veterans’ information, including address, employment history, and all their benefits history.

The hacked database also contains hundreds of other pieces of information on every federal employee, including age, gender, race data and birth dates.

Cox clearly says that their reassessment of the OPM documents made them “believe” that Social Security numbers stored in the database were not encrypted, which is a “cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous.”

The union called the breach “an abysmal failure on the part of the agency to guard data that has been entrusted to it by the federal workforce,” Cox is cited saying in the letter. He added that almost no “substantive information” was shared with the union, despite it representing the rights of close to 700,000 US federal employees.

The OPM said the union’s claims are overestimated and that the number of those believed affected in the data theft is the same as the office reported last week. Around 4.2 million people may have had their information compromised, the OPM spokesman Sam Schumach told NBC News. That number includes 2.1 million employees, around one million retirees, and 1.1 million “separated workers.”

Meanwhile the Senate’s Democratic leader, Harry Reid, again told the floor that the OPM’s hack was apparently conducted by “the Chinese,” after being briefed on the “most secret intelligence information.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also said Chinese hackers are believed to be behind the attack, according to the Associated Press.

OPM is continuing their assessment of the damage in partnership with the federal intelligence agencies to determine the scope of the intrusion. In their latest press release, the agency stated there was no evidence thus far that there has been “any use or attempted use” of personal data derived from the hack.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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