US government agency breach exposes 22 million employees' data

Synopsis

When this breach was disclosed it was considered the largest espionage coup of all time, one of the biggest ever on US government systems and possibly the single most damaging breach to US national security.

The data theft consisted of stealing detailed records of every employee and consultant of the US government for the past 50 years. The exposed information included addresses, health and financial details of 19.7 million people who had been subjected to government background checks as well as 1.8 million others, bringing the total known affected to 22.1 million. Those affected could be blackmailed into providing sensitive or classified data therefore the repercussions of this breach could extend to harming the US' domestic/foreign diplomatic and intelligence work.

The hack had been in progress for two years before it was discovered and was believed to have been perpetrated by Chinese hackers.

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Analyst

Courtenay Brammar

Experienced global enterprise risk and governance professional. Previously Vice President at Morgan Stanley, Deloitte Risk Advisory practitioner and PRMIA steering committee member in both London and New York.

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Companies

  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management

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