News that the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management was hacked — presumably by the Chinese — leaving personal, financial and security information of potentially millions of congressional staffers, current and former federal employees and contractors at risk, has thus far earned little more than a shrug from the American public.
But the breach — the largest of government data ever — is a very big deal.
Technology and security experts have warned that the hack is significant because of the nature of the information stolen: records of foreign travel, foreign contacts, any history of drug use, medical information, polygraph test results, etc. And unlike typical identity theft attacks on consumers, where credit card information is stolen, this is something that cannot be fixed. The information is lost, supplying the thieves with all they need to damage, blackmail and threaten their victims.
Testifying before Congress this week, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said her agency foils 10 million hacking attempts in the average month.
But the agency was long ago warned about its vulnerabilities and failed to act. For this colossal failure, heads must roll.
We need solutions to this serious security threat.