Chinese hackers blamed for U.S. government data breach

Hackers working for the Chinese government broke into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) files and were able to obtain sensitive information about millions of U.S. government workers. The data breach was discovered by the OPM in April, but attack took place in December 2014. The OPM is responsible for all government employee records as well as security clearances.

The intruders in the OPM case gained access to information that included employees’ Social Security numbers, job assignments, performance ratings and training information, agency officials said.

Over four million government workers are being notified about the threat to their personal information—both current and former employees. The OPM will offer credit monitoring as well as identity theft insurance to those at risk. Officials were quick to stress that they do not believe security clearances are at risk.

Senator Susan Collins seemed to disagree.

Collins, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, said the breach was “yet another indication of a foreign power probing successfully and focusing on what appears to be data that would identify people with security clearances.”

The Chinese government denied involvement in the attack and called the claims “irresponsible” and “counterproductive.”

Some news organizations were careful to avoid calling the hackers “state-sponsored,” at least initially. The New York Times took a cautious route and said the attacks originated from China, but stopped before attributing blame to the Chinese government.

 

[Washington Post] [Associated Press] [The Guardian] [New York Times] [Image via CNN]