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Over 22M Social Security numbers stolen in OPM hacks

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If you were affected by recent hacks on US government databases, you’re in good company. The federal government announced Thursday that the total number of people affected by the cyberattack on the US government’s personnel office was more than 22 million. The agency said 21.5 million Social Security numbers were stolen from one source, and 4.2 million from another.

Some people were hit with a double whammy, having their information compromised in both breaches, leading to the government’s total figure of 22.1 million stolen Social Security numbers.

The breadth of the attack exceeds some of the worst estimates that government officials and security experts had shot around in the past month, showing that the government’s databases were an unsecured stockpile of valuable information when the attack occurred.

FBI Director James Comey purportedly estimated that 18 million people were affected, prompting US Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to grill Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta on the total number at a congressional hearing in late June. Archuleta declined to give a number at the time, saying the agency was still sorting out how many people’s Social Security numbers were in the forms.

Attackers lifted the 21.5 million Social Security numbers from stolen background check documents. About 1.8 million of the people caught up in the hack were married to or lived with the applicants seeking a security clearance, the Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday.

And it got even more invasive than that.

“As noted above, some records also include findings from interviews conducted by background investigators and approximately 1.1 million include fingerprints,” the agency said in its press release.

The two database breaches were “related,” an OPM spokesman said, and added that the FBI is still determining who was responsible for hacking the background check documents. The first hack has been tied by some in the federal government to Chinese hackers, but few further details have emerged.

The OPM press release also detailed the assistance the government will provide those affected, including credit and fraud monitoring, identity theft insurance and “full service identity restoration support and victim recovery assistance.” The OPM spokesman said the agency was still contracting these services out and did not have an estimate of how much it would cost taxpayers.

Source: News.com



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