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Breach of US Government Computers Exposes 14 Million Current, Former Federal Employees

People briefed on the investigation into the recent hack on US government computer say some 14 million current and former civilian US government employees had personal information exposed to hackers, a much higher figure than the 4 million the Obama administration initially disclosed. Allegedly, a second cyber breach occurred.

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Compromised records number between 9 million and 14 million and go back to the 1980s, a congressional official and a former government official told the Associated Press.

Experts speculate on the perpetrators of the breach at US the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) after security specialists found the alleged data on a popular black market available for sale. The sample is offered by a user with the pseudonym of PING. Another 9,500 government log-in credentials stolen last week from government offices across the US are available for sale on the Deep Web and can be bought by any criminal organization or intelligence agency.

It’s the second digital breach of federal records revealed in a week and could dramatically compound the damage, according to The Guardian. Hackers linked to China appear to have gained access to sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel seeking security clearances, official US sources say. The database believed hacked, Standard Form 86, requires applicants to fill out personal information including mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests and bankruptcies and lists of contacts and relatives, exposing any foreign relatives of US intelligence employees.

US intelligence officials quoted by AP say China spies for national security advantage and engages in large-scale theft of corporate secrets for the benefit of state-sponsored enterprises that compete with Western companies. Nearly every major US company has been hacked from China, they say.

The Obama administration acknowledged that up to 4.2 million current and former employees were affected by the previous cyber breach, including 1.5 million serving as uniformed military personnel, without saying exactly what was taken.

About the author

Răzvan MUREȘAN

Former business journalist, Razvan is passionate about supporting SMEs into building communities and exchanging knowledge on entrepreneurship. He enjoys having innovative approaches on hot topics and thinks that the massive amount of information that attacks us on a daily basis via TV and internet makes us less informed than we even think. The lack of relevance is the main issue in nowadays environment so he plans to emphasize real news on hotforsecurity.com

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