US government hack may have been far greater than first feared

12 Jun 2015

The hackers accused of stealing data relating to existing and former US government workers may have accessed far more data than first feared.

According to Associated Press sources, personal information belonging to somewhere between 9m and 14m civilians may have been accessed – a far higher figure than the 4m the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) claimed last week. The breach is understood to have occurred in April and US officials suspect hackers in China are responsible, though the Chinese Embassy in Washington has warned against jumping to such conclusions.

The data stretches back to the 1980s and contains the records of most federal civilian employees, though not members of Congress, the military or intelligence agencies. The OPM has restricted network administration functions and reviewed all connections to outside networks, as well as introducing new anti-malware procedures. The organisation is also working with specialist internet security firm CSID.

“Protecting our federal employee data from malicious cyber incidents is of the highest priority at OPM,” said OPM director Katherine Archuleta last week. “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.”

Workers who may have been hit in the attack have been advised to monitor their finances in case of identity theft.

Capitol Building image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic