Hackers Steal 21.5 Million Social Security Numbers From Feds

Hackers Steal 21.5 Million Social Security Numbers From Feds
Photo (cc) by evenkolder

Hackers stole 21.5 million Social Security numbers after breaching a federal agency’s personnel database, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced Thursday.

The breach likely affected every person given a government background check over the past 15 years, according to the agency’s announcement.

The scale of the breach was discovered in May during an interagency forensics investigation.

The OPM says the breach resulted in the theft of “sensitive information” from the agency’s background investigation database, including:

  • Social Security numbers of 21.5 million people (including 19.7 million who applied for a background investigation and 1.8 million nonapplicants, primarily spouses or cohabitants of applicants)
  • “Some” findings from interviews conducted by background investigators
  • About 1.1 million fingerprint records

According to the agency’s announcement:

If an individual underwent a background investigation through OPM in 2000 or afterwards (which occurs through the submission of forms SF 86, SF 85, or SF 85P for a new investigation or periodic reinvestigation), it is highly likely that the individual is impacted by this cyber breach. If an individual underwent a background investigation prior to 2000, that individual still may be impacted, but it is less likely.

In the wake of the findings, the White House announced that OPM Director Katherine Archuleta was resigning, Reuters reports.

In its original announcement, OPM stated that there “is no information at this time to suggest any misuse or further dissemination of the information that was stolen from OPM’s systems.”

This is the second major breach discovered by the Office of Personnel Management in the last few months.

In early June, the OPM announced details of a breach the agency had discovered in April. The agency concluded that this breach likely resulted in the theft of personnel data associated with 4.2 million current and former federal employees.

Gary Steele, chief executive of Proofpoint, tells Fox Business that his cybersecurity company has had to innovate rapidly to keep up with hackers’ evolving tactics.

Organizations like the OPM must also evolve in terms of protection, he says:

“Organizations are much more vulnerable than they have ever been. Traditional anti-virus systems don’t protect from these new forms of attacks.”

Are you concerned that business and the federal government are not protecting your information? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters.

Learn everything you need to plan your dream retirement

The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need gives you the knowledge you need to retire on your own terms. Sure, you can pay a financial adviser, but this online course gives you total control to create a custom retirement plan around the things that make you happy.

You're going to get expert, personalized advice. You'll have access to the latest tools. And when it's complete, you'll be able to approach your retirement confidently and with peace of mind.

It's time to plan the best years of your life. Let's get started.

Popular Articles

10 Habits Happy People Use to Make Life Better
10 Habits Happy People Use to Make Life Better

If you want to walk through life with a smile on your face, try these habits on for size.

9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air
9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air

These plants may also do everything from reducing the amount of dust in your home to boosting your happiness.

Don’t Want to Owe Taxes After You Die? Avoid These 17 States
Don’t Want to Owe Taxes After You Die? Avoid These 17 States

In one state, the tax man is especially tough on the estates of those who shake off this mortal coil.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Comments