Remember when Chinese hackers breached the security of over 4 million Americans? Well, it turns out it was a bit more than just 4 million. The number more like 22 million Americans. That number includes government and non government employees. It also includes the data of at least 1.8 million relatives and associates as well as some biometric data. Quite a haul for the Chinese.
Investigators ultimately determined that 19.7 million applicants for security clearances had their Social Security numbers and other personal information stolen and 1.8 million relatives and other associates also had information taken, according to OPM. That includes 3.6 million of the current and former government employees for a total of 22.1 million.
“If an individual underwent a background investigation through OPM in 2000 or afterwards … it is highly likely that the individual is impacted by this cyber breach,” OPM’s statement said today.
Even before today’s announcement, there was little doubt that the universe of victims was vastly larger because the hackers had access to far more than personnel records, including files associated with background investigations and information on government workers’ families, sources said.
And if you had the idea that the hack was a quick in and out of the security systems. In fact, they have had access to the info for more than a year.
In fact, the hackers allegedly rummaged through various OPM databases for more than a year — and lawmakers and U.S. officials alike have described the breach as a significant threat to national security.
The info nabbed by the Chinese contained personal information gathered during security checks, which contained possible compromising issues of its subjects, which could lead to national security threats.
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are particularly concerned over the theft of forms known as SF-86s that current and prospective federal workers, including certain military personnel and even contractors, submit for security clearances. The forms require applicants to provide personal information not only about themselves but also relatives, friends, “associates” and foreign contacts spanning several years. The forms also ask applicants about past drug use, financial history, mental health history and personal relationships.
Such information could be exploited to pressure or trick employees and U.S. officials into further compromising their agencies, or they could provide ways for hackers to target people outside government, sources have told ABC News.
An OPM system known as “e-QIP” that allows applicants to submit SF-86s and other materials online remains suspended in the wake of the breach.
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