The report of the hacking purportedly by the Chinese of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is troubling for all federal employees. Potentially having your personal information stolen, is disconcerting enough no matter the source of the hacking, but the concerted attack on federal employee data is more worrying.
The most recent incident was the second major reported hacking of this data. Reports from last year suggest that Chinese hacking attempts are made on a constant basis, but the 2014 attack on employees who had applied for top-secret security clearance was one of the first that had succeeded.
The hack this month was much larger and may be the largest data security breach of government computers. Four million current and former federal employees may have had their information stolen, but it is not known if the data was stolen for state espionage purposes or for commercial purposes.
For any federal employee, a careful watch should be made of all financial accounts, as this information could be used to steal identities of employees, which could be used for information and financial theft.
This could leave an innocent federal employee accused of a great variety of improper or illegal activities and subject them to disciplinary actions and possible criminal charges for actions carried out by their stolen identities.
Identity theft can be a nightmare for an individual who has to sort out illegal and unauthorized purchases and other activities performed by their fake alter-egos.
For a federal worker, the nightmare could be far worse, with criminal wrongdoing and violations of national security being part of the activities carried out by hackers.
Because you cannot prevent this type of breach, you must maintain an active watch of your accounts and report any unusual activity as soon as possible.
Source: fedsmith.com, “OPM Data Breach: What You Need to Know,” Ian Smith, June 8, 2015