There appears to be a great deal of confidence the 2015 breach suffered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had more to do with international cyber warfare than individual cyber home invasions.
Nevertheless, past federal employees, current federal employees and those who have merely applied for federal employment, have been fundamentally debased. They have had their privacy invaded, their identity compromised, their reputations put at risk and their credit threatened.
It seems to be a good time to look at the measures that are currently underway to “protect” those that have been exposed.
Sept. 1, 2015 – According to OPM.gov, OPM announced that it has awarded a contract of $133 million to Identity Theft Guard Solutions. The contract will provide identity theft protection for those whose information was stolen during the infamous OPM identity hack.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 included an additional $21 million in funding for OPM “cybersecurity” needs. Additionally, for individuals affected by the OPM data breaches, language is included providing identity protection coverage for 10 years.
Steps in the right direction, perhaps. Yet, anything less than lifetime identity protection will be clearly inadequate. Considering the banter this subject incites, we may anticipate this topic being a political ping pong for years to come. I don’t know about you, but, I am putting a reminder on my Microsoft Outlook calendar for 2025.
I have two proposals to offer for consideration that should strengthen the overall identity security of the hacked hordes.
Note: A credit freeze can be performed online. I ardently believe the federal government should address credit freezes with those affected individuals. It should also pay for the service in the non-gratis states. However, I don’t suggest waiting for that day to arrive. If you know you have been part of this attack, I would suggest freezing your credit as quickly as you can. Imagine how terrifying it would be to try and freeze your credit six months from now, only to find that it has already been frozen by someone claiming to be you. At that point, you would enter a very surreal moment in your life. You will now have to prove you are who you say you are, because your cyber doppelganger has already locked down your identity for themselves. What a chilling possibility!
I recently provided a Federal Retirement Readiness Review for Lenny (a retired fed) when our discussion turned to the OPM hack. This was my first meeting with Lenny, but, I could quickly see he was greatly concerned and agitated about the security of his retirement funds. I offered Lenny some “low tech” solutions to a “high tech” problem. I suggested Lenny change his login and password. This time taking into consideration that someone in the dark cyber underground knows:
To protect his retirement funds, Lenny created new logins, passwords, security questions and answers.
I have offered a couple of ideas OPM could implement to protect those that have been hacked. But, as a current fed, a past fed or just someone who applied to be a fed, what can you do to protect yourself? I am no computer geek, but, I know a few.
My best piece of advice is, don’t wait, take steps now to protect everything you have worked hard for!
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Randy Silvey is the published author of: “You FIRST, Federal Employees Retirement Guide,” one of the bestselling books of its kind on Amazon and Kindle. He has 14 years’ experience guiding feds to pursue a youthful and wealthy retirement. Randy can be reached at 816-524-515 or Silverlight’s website.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC.