Earlier this month, news emerged that the US government had suffered its worst cyberattack ever.
On June 4, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) revealed that hackers had penetrated its networks, possibly for many months. The data thieves stole personal information of up to 18 million current and former federal government applicants and employees.
There’s a good chance the attack is even worse than what you’ve read about. The OPM hack included a database holding security clearance information on hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors. This database contains details of applicants’ financial and investment records, family members, and even names of neighbors and close friends.
Another database that may have been breached includes criminal history, psychological records, and information about past drug use. The hackers might even have acquired detailed personal and sexual profiles obtained through lie detector tests.
With all the talk of Edward Snowden and the supposed “irreparable” damage he did to US interests, this theft is a lot worse. While OPM doesn’t hold personnel records for the CIA, it does for other US intelligence agencies. The hackers now know the identity of hundreds of thousands of federal employees with security clearances. Not only that, they also have sensitive background information on each of them, which they could easily use for blackmail.
Oh, and get this – the breach wasn’t actually discovered by the OPM. It was only uncovered during a sales demonstration by a security company named CyTech Services.
So what does the Obama administration want to do to solve the problem?
For starters, it’s proposed “economic sanctions” against China, which it holds responsible for the attack. We’ve seen how effective those were against Russia after the US imposed them last year in the wake of its takeover of Crimea. There’s no reason to think that sanctions against China will be any more effective.
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