China hacks U.S. Government, 4 Million identities compromised

China-based hackers are suspected of breaking into the computer networks
of the U.S. government personnel office and stealing identifying
information of at least 4 million federal workers, American officials
said Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that data
from the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department had
been compromised.

4 million current and former federal employees may have had their personal information hacked.

The agency, which conducts
background checks, warned it was urging potential victims to monitor
their financial statements and obtain new credit reports.
U.S. officials believe this could be the biggest breach ever of the government’s computer networks.
“The FBI is conducting an investigation to identify how and why this occurred,” the statement said.
An assessment continues and it is possible millions more government employees may be impacted.
American investigators believe they can
trace the breach to the Chinese government. Hackers working for the
Chinese military are believed to be compiling a massive database of
Americans, intelligence.

A U.S. official, who declined to be named because he was not
authorized to publicly discuss the data breach, said it could
potentially affect every federal agency. One key question is whether
intelligence agency employee information was stolen. Former government
employees are affected as well.

“This is an attack against the nation,” said Ken Ammon, chief
strategy officer of Xceedium, who said the attack fit the pattern of
those carried out by nation states for the purpose of espionage. The
information stolen could be used to impersonate or blackmail federal
employees with access to sensitive information, he said.

It is not clear what the purpose of the database is.
Employees of the legislative and judicial branches, and uniformed military personnel, were not affected.
The FBI is now investigating what exactly led to the breach.
“We take all potential threats to
public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to
investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace,”
the FBI said in a statement.
The federal personnel office said
“personally identifiable information” had been breached, though didn’t
name who might be responsible.
Source: CNN


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