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Chinese Hackers Steal Every U.S. Federal Workers' Social Security Numbers

( [email protected] ) Jun 12, 2015 08:33 PM EDT
The largest federal employee union believes that hackers from China have stolen personnel data including the Social Security Numbers of every federal employee in the U.S. The cyber-attack is now considered to be far worse than any type of data breach in the Obama administration.
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The largest federal employee union believes that hackers from China have stolen personnel data including the Social Security Numbers of every federal employee in the U.S. The cyber-attack is now considered to be far worse than any type of data breach in the Obama administration.

In a letter by J. David Cox, president of the American Federal of Government Employees, addressed to Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management, Cox said, "We believe that the Central Personnel Data File was the targeted database, and that the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to one million former federal employees."

"Very little substantive information has been shared with us, despite the fact that we represent more than 670,000 federal employees in departments and agencies throughout the executive branch," the letter continued.

Cox added that aside from Social Security Number, other personal information, including birth date, address, pay history, military records, health insurance, life insurance information, age and gender were also stolen.

The total number of active federal employees is 2.1 million to be exact, according to Press Secretary Sam Schumach. The secretary also disclosed that one million retirees have their personal information in jeopardy. 

"We believe that Social Security numbers were not encrypted, a cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous," Cox further said in his letter.

The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) National President, William Dougan, also expressed his utter disappointment. "Right now, federal employees are rightfully frustrated with the response offered following this cybersecurity breach. Federal workers have had their personal and financial information exposed at no fault of their own," he said in a statement.

The stolen confidential data could be used for identity theft and blackmail, which makes it very threatening to all federal employees. To protect affected federal employees with 18 months of identity fraud protection, the Office of Personnel Management has just signed a $20 million deal with a private cyber security firm.

According to US intelligence officials, China spies for "national security advantage." They engage in large scale theft of confidential data and they have been trying to hack every major US company in the past years.

Meanwhile on Friday, a new cybersecurity bill fell short of four votes and failed to move to legislation with a vote of 56-40. The law would give private companies the ability to share data with the government, particularly cyber threat data, without fear of lawsuit.

The law was passed by the House in April but Libertarian Republicans and Democrats in the Senate felt that it is just another avenue of violating citizen's rights to privacy.