The Office of Personnel Management is under fire again today after it was revealed hackers, allegedly Chinese, stole 21 million social security numbers during a massive data breach discovered last month (which officials originally said only impacted 4 million people). The social security numbers belong to Americans who have, or who currently are, working for the federal government.
This new information comes on the heels of news hackers were able to obtain extremely sensitive information, including classified background check information that can be used for blackmail, belonging to tens of millions of government employees. More bad news:
Here’s the kicker: despite today’s jaw-dropping news, the attackers were in our networks so long that it may still be a while before we figure out everything they stole. Most news coverage has centered on federal employees. But that’s an incomplete picture because it’s now clear many victims never worked for the federal government. When applying for a security clearance with the SF-86, applicants list their family members, neighbors, co-workers, foreign contacts, and even college roommates.
What this means is that not only do the hackers know lots of sensitive information about millions of government employees, they also know a great deal about many of the people they know and love. The implications for threats, intimidation, and blackmail are chilling. “Oh, you don’t want to sell out your country? OK, we get it. By the way, your parents still live at 2911 Rainbow Drive, right?”
China may now have the largest spy-recruiting database in history.
Naturally, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta is defiant as calls from Democrats and Republicans for her resignation grow louder. President Obama is standing behind her with full faith and confidence.
House Republican leaders – Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise – called for Archuleta’s resignation, and Boehner said the president must “take a strong stand against incompetence.”
Even Democrats joined the call for Archuleta to go. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia decried Archuleta for a “slow and uneven response” that he said had undermined confidence in her abilities.
As a reminder, OPM was warned last year that they didn't have the proper cyber security protocols in place to prevent an attack that would likely occur. That warning was ignored and here we are now with a massive data breach that has provided the Chinese with a treasure trove of the most sensitive information possible. And, not only does this breach affect the employees themselves, but their families.