Speaking to reporters Tuesday from the White House briefing room, Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted his personal government employee information was hacked.
"Yes I was," Earnest responded to a question from a reporter about the extensive nature of the hack. Earnest said although his information was hacked, he cannot confirm who else on White House staff has been compromised.
Government officials are scrambling as news and the extent of the recent data breach, most likely carried out by the Chinese, gets significantly worse. Initially we were told the information of just four million government employees was compromised. That number has jumped to at least 18 million.
FBI Director James Comey gave the 18 million estimate in a closed-door briefing to Senators in recent weeks, using the OPM's own internal data, according to U.S. officials briefed on the matter. Those affected could include people who applied for government jobs, but never actually ended up working for the government.
We aren't just talking about basic information being hacked, but instead information about classified security clearances, family members, extensive personal history, etc. The alarming details from The Daily Beast:
If you’ve ever held a security clearance with Uncle Sam, Chinese hackers now have all your personal info—and from debt to dirty money, they won’t be shy about causing mayhem with it.
Here’s where things start to get scary. Whoever has OPM’s records knows an astonishing amount about millions of federal workers, members of the military, and security clearance holders. They can now target those Americans for recruitment or influence. After all, they know their vices, every last one—the gambling habit, the inability to pay bills on time, the spats with former spouses, the taste for something sexual on the side—since all that is recorded in security clearance paperwork. (To get an idea of how detailed this gets, you can see the form, called an SF86, here.) Speaking as a former counterintelligence officer, it really doesn’t get much worse than this.
Do you have friends in foreign countries, perhaps lovers past and present? The hackers know all about them. That embarrassing dispute with your neighbor over hedges that nearly got you arrested? They know about that, too. Your college drug habit? Yes, that too. Even what your friends and neighbors said about you to investigators, highly personal and revealing stuff, that’s in the other side’s possession now.
The Chinese are denying the hack attack came from them and the U.S. government isn't confirming its origin either, but Senator Harry Reid spilled last week that it was in fact the Chinese who stole the information.
It should be noted that the Office of Personnel Management was warned about a lack of cyber safeguards a year ago and failed to implement further protections. And don't worry, the Office of Personnel Management is making sure people are held accountable...