A major data breach has been discovered in Washington D.C. and many U.S. officials are describing it as one of the biggest thefts of government data—ever. It is believed that hackers, working on behalf of the Chinese military, breached the Office of Personnel Management’s system back in December, but it was not discovered until April. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the breach and they have estimated that as many as four million people may have had their personal records stolen.
The Wall Street Journal reports that investigators are not sure how much information was stolen or exactly which of 4.2 million federal employees were affected. The Office of Personnel Management is planning to increase their network security by limiting the amount of employees who can work remotely and deploying new anti-malware software.
What to Do if You Think Your Personal Data Has Been Stolen in the Federal Data Breach
The Office of Personnel Management will be sending notifications to anyone whose personal information might have been compromised in the Federal Data Breach. Those notifications will be going out between June 8, 2015 and June 19, 2015 and will be coming from the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. If the Office of Personnel Management does not have an e-mail address on file for someone, they will send a letter through the U.S. Postal Service.
The government is giving victims of the breach 18 months of free credit monitoring services and identity theft insurance. They do, however, still encourage federal employees to keep an eye on their bank accounts and financial statements and look out for any signs of identity theft.
Can the U.S. Government Fight Off Hackers?
The U.S. government has always been a prime target for hackers, but this is not the first time the Office of Personnel Management has been hit. They were the victims of a smaller attack last year, though investigators never released an exact number of how many people were affected. The Office of Personnel Management handles security clearances, background checks, pension payments, and other human resources-related tasks, so they are certainly appealing targets in the eyes of hackers.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Nicolas Raymond.