US reports massive breach of government personnel data

Four million federal government workers exposed

The U.S. is investigating a massive data breach that exposed personal information on around 4 million federal government workers, according to news reports Thursday.

China is suspected of having a hand in the attack, described by an unnamed official as "one of the largest thefts of government data ever seen," the Wall Street Journal reported.

The attack targeted the Office of Personnel Management, a government agency tasked with hiring and retaining government workers. The same agency was breached last year, but this was apparently a separate attack.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed the breach, saying data from OPM and the Interior Department were compromised at the beginning of last month, according to the Associated Press.

The OPM conducts the vast majority of background checks on government employees, and a big question is whether information about intelligence agency workers was exposed.

Last year, OPM and the Department of Homeland Security stopped doing background checks through a contractor in Virginia, after the contractor said its networks had been breached in what looked like a state sponsored attack. That incident was apparently unrelated to this latest hack.

The FBI is investigating to determine which federal agencies were affected, though it could potentially be all of them, news reports said.

China is often a suspect in state-sponsored attacks, but it's unclear how much evidence points to that country on this occasion. Unnamed U.S. officials told the Journal that China is a suspect, but they also said the investigation continues. The Journal notes that it's notoriously hard to identify the origin of attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security said its intrusion detection system, known as Einstein, detected the attack and that the FBI is investigating, the AP reported.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Office of Personnel Management

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?