A new breach in the United States’ governmental computer networks, allegedly carried out by Chinese hackers, places all federal workforce at the risk of identity theft.
Reports have started to come in during this week that the federal computer networks, particularly that of the Office of Personnel Management have been severely breached, placing an incredible high number of governmental employees at risk of identity theft and not only.
The Office of Personnel Management represents at large the human resources agency of the federal government. In a statement coming from the Department of Homeland Security it was revealed that the Interior Department was targeted as well.
The stakes are growing higher with reports pouring in to add to the number of federal government agencies that have fallen victim to the unprecedented cyber-attack. So far, there have been no alarm signals concerning the legislative branch.
As an overall estimated, it seems that the data breach has resulted in the withdrawal from the system of personal information pertaining to at least four million employees at the federal level. This is a disturbingly high number taking into consideration what is at stake.
Reportedly, the intent of the hackers, possibly governmentally backed, is to create an extensive database that would further aid China in future cyber-attacks or to impersonate or blackmail particular individuals.
It is a strong alarm-signal as clear classification of security clearance levels are part of the information obtained by the hackers. At this point, United States employees around the world are left vulnerable to identity theft. U.S. based employees are somewhat more secure, yet the threat created under the circumstances of a data breach of this magnitude remains real.
The first indications that started coming out in April pointed to China as the source of the cyber-attack. U.S. officials have confirmed this information and the FBI is looking into how the breach happened in order to hopefully prevent these critical situations from happening in the future.
To the allegation, China has retorted with an accusation of its own. While not commenting on the attack itself, Chinese officials called the allegation irresponsible. At the same time, the U.S. government was called upon for greater efforts on the international scene against cyber-attacks, which are threatening each and every nation.
Adam Schiff, California Democratic Representative from the House Intelligence Committee told the press that:
“The extent of personal data stolen makes this attack an order of magnitude greater than any we have seen of its kind in the past”.
Susan Collins, the Republican Senator of Maine strongly condemned the interference of another foreign power in the federal networks.
And while the situation is grave enough as it is and pinpoints the need for system reform immediately as it is believed that every federal agency is potentially at risk at this moment, U.S. politics turned it into a blaming arena as well.
While Republican representative were lashing out at the incapacity of the White House to protect the American People, and Democrats were scrambling to reply to these attacks, the Press Secretary Josh Earnest pointed at Congress for not doing more:
“We need the United States Congress to come out of the Dark Ages and actually join us here in the 21st century to make sure that we have the kinds of defenses that are necessary to protect a modern computer system”.
Despite the controversial background the cyber-attack led to, the real problem of private data being stolen from more than four million federal government employees still remains real.
It is unclear if intelligence agencies have been targeted as well and their systems breached. So far no statement have been made to address the issue.
Image Source: softfern.com