Personal data of 21 million Americans exposed in hack attack

Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta

Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta.

The Obama administration acknowledged on Thursday that the hack attack against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was much more serious than previously disclosed.

The hack attack was first made public on June 4, and the finger was pointed at China as the likely suspect.

The OPM had 4.2 million employees who had information stolen in the hack.

It is now believed that the information of an additional 21 million people who were the subjects of related background checks was also stolen in a follow-up attack.

The stolen information includes Social Security numbers, health histories, home and work addresses and more.

FBI Director James Comey in a briefing on Thursday underscored the threat this breach poses to the government and the citizens affected.

“It’s a treasure trove of information about everybody who has worked for, tried to work for, or works for the United States government,” he said.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has been critical of OPM Director Katherine Archuleta and has called for her resignation.

“Such incompetence is inexcusable,” Chaffetz said in a statement. “[They] consciously ignored the warnings and failed to correct these weaknesses.”

Some Democrats like Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) also had harsh words for Archuleta.

“It is time for her to step down, and I strongly urge the administration to choose new management with proven abilities to address a crisis of this magnitude with an appropriate sense of urgency and accountability,” said Warner.

For her part, Archuleta has refused to step down.

“I am committed to the work that I am doing,” she said at a press conference on Thursday.

The government has said that it has taken steps to prevent future hack attacks by proposing new legislation, urging private industry to share more information about attacks

China has denied responsibility for the breach.

[The Associated Press]