A lot of people are understandably unhappy about last Thursday’s announcement that the Office of Personnel Management sustained a cyber-intrusion that put the personally identifiable information of 4 million current and former federal employees at risk.
Federal News Radio learned that the cyber-intrusion, which took place last December, is just 1 of 9 cyber attacks the Homeland Security Department detected to target bulk PII.
We also obtained a copy of the email notice OPM started sending out Monday to individuals whose information may have been compromised by the cyber attack. OPM will continue notifying affected individuals through June 19 via email and by standard mail.
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta will be briefing members of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday night about the cyber breach. On the other side of the Hill, the FBI will be filling in the Senate Intelligence Committee with the latest on its investigation.
Federal News Radio polled our readers, asking them how worried were they about the safety of their personal information.
The poll in this story is no longer available.
The vast majority of respondents — 82 percent — said they were “very worried” about the breach and that if they were affected, they planned to take advantage of the credit monitoring services being offered by OPM.
Thirteen percent said they were “somewhat worried” about the breach and trusted the government to take the necessary steps to mitigate the cybersecurity issues.
The smallest group of respondents — 6 percent — said they weren’t worried at all and these types of briefs occur all the time.
Here are some of the comments left by our readers and posted on Facebook expressing their concerns about the attack and the government’s response:
“This is the 3rd time my data has been compromised by the Federal Government. Worried? No, I’m not worried. I am furious. Was the data encrypted as required by law? If not, when can we expect to see the criminal charges brought against those guilty of criminal malfeasance?” — 13thGenPatriot
“It’s pretty amazing how stupid our government is.” — Cybrsk8r
“We will all be pushing a buggy down the street if government only offers 18 months of credit monitoring. I have worked for 45 years for nothing!!!!” — thisismessedup
“I feel betrayed. Not because they were hacked but because it took nearly 3 weeks for my employers to let me know. They are behaving in a corrupt and immoral way and I am not going to take it any longer. I have applied for my retirement papers and as soon as I find somewhere else to work, I am off.” — chicagoman
“This just convinces me that we as a nation need a better method of identification establishment than a simple Social Security number. The fact that SSNs are part of the breach worries me greatly — I spent years building my credit and working diligently to protect myself from legal and financial harm. Who knows what purpose these hackers intend? Am I looking forward to years of frustration and lost funds because I may have to defend myself and who I am?” — Carrie Osman
J. David Cox Sr., the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said that his union has heard from scores of its members, who are concerned about the data breach.
“Our members are concerned that their personal information is at risk, that OPM waited two months after learning about the breach to go public, and that the federal government has not done enough to protect their most personal information from hackers,” he said. “We still don’t know whether this was a contractor-controlled database, or even the extent of the data that was compromised. We want to know why OPM did not bother to encrypt federal employees’ Social Security numbers, which is standard cybersecurity protocol. Our members are also concerned that the 18 months of credit reporting and $1 million liability insurance being offered by the government is woefully inadequate, which is why we will be pursuing far more comprehensive remedies. We are working closely with OPM to make sure these concerns are heard and our members’ information is protected.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the ranking member of the Government Operations Subcommittee, represents a district with many federal employees.
“Taken in totality, the recent hack at the Department of Interior, combined with the earlier sophisticated data breaches of two important security clearance contractor databases, raise highly troubling questions over precisely why a Nation-state actor would be collecting such a comprehensive dossier on the Federal workforce,” Connolly said. “While my constituents are understandably concerned about the personal financial risks posed by the loss of personally identifiable information, the lack of criminal activity associated with these three major data breaches indicate that the purpose of the massive PII exfiltration may have less to do with financial criminal activity, and present a more direct threat to national security.”
In light of the OPM data breach and the actions the government has taken to date, Federal News Radio would like to know more about our readers’ level of trust toward the government. Has the data breach changed your level of trust? Do you trust the government more or less? Take our poll, comment on this article, or join the conversation on Facebook.