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Storm of Investigations Triggered as Chinese Hackers Wreak Havoc at Capital

The Federal Office of Personnel Management has been hacked by China. The data breach was discovered in April of 2015; however, the public was not addressed until June. The hack has triggered a storm of investigations into the breach. Pressure is ascending upon the agency for failing to secure sensitive national security data. Congressional hearings with administrators of the Office of Personnel Management are anticipated concerning the cyber intrusion. The Office of Personnel Management is notifying over 4 million federal employees that personal data has been compromised.

Security credentials acquired during a breach last year at Keypoint Government Solutions, a government contractor, is considered to have been utilized to gain access to the records. The same hackers are believed to be responsible for both security penetrations. The Chinese government is thought to be liable for the cyber invasion. Capital e-mails were breached in 2014 by hackers employed by the Russian government. Cyber espionage is a growing peril to the security of America. 

Some security technicians believe that blocking access to Keypoint Government Solutions after the original security violation last year could have foiled this latest attack. Administrators at the Office of Personnel Management claim the cyber criminals had created a backdoor access point in the office’s system. High-level administrator access is believed to have been obtained in order to install the backdoor. Beijing denies involvement with either cyber attack.

The Office of Personnel Management originally announced that the cyber violation affected over 4.2 million federal present, past and potential employees. Federal employees suspect that Capital Hill is underestimating the gravity of the breach. During a private senatorial briefing, FBI Director, James Corney disclosed new figures last week that estimate the breach to affect over 18 million Americans. In addition to classified federal employee records, the attack jeopardized private information of family members connected to the employees. The information was located on confidential security clearance forms in the system files. The figures are expected to climb as the investigation progresses.

*Photo courtesy of Contrasts in Government by Sort of Natural at Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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