Revelations of the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) massive data breach seems to get worse by the day.
Thursday we discussed that per the FBI, the number of people who’s personal data was compromised is upwards of 18 million. OPM’s estimates were around 4 million. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta is so competent, she hasn’t bothered to speak with the FBI about their numeric discrepancy. Archuleta was also unwilling to answer whether or not sensitive prescription, and other sensitive health-related data was accessed by hackers.
Friday, Fox News reported that according to a senior U.S. official, the data breach included access to “adjudication information;” information used to determine security clearances.
…The Daily Beast, citing a senior U.S. official, reported that the hackers, believed to be based in China, gained access to so-called “adjudication information,” sensitive facts compiled by U.S. investigators about government employees and contractors who apply for a security clearance. The “adjudication information” goes beyond what is required of employees filling out a routine clearance questionnaire, known as Standard Form (SF) 86. The Obama administration admitted earlier this month that information in those forms had been compromised by the hackers.
If the theft of “adjudication information” is confirmed, whoever carried out the hack would have access to a list of federal employees and contractors who are likely targets for blackmail or engagement in espionage against the United States.
“This is worse than [NSA leaker Edward] Snowden, because at least programs that were running before the leaks could be replaced or rebuilt," a former U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. "But OPM, that's the gift that keeps on giving. You can't rebuild people."
The Daily Beast reports that the “adjudication information” includes the results of lie-detector tests, in which investigators press applicants to reveal deeply personal information. The topics for interrogation can and do include marital problems, drug and alcohol abuse, or an addiction to gambling.
For example, the report mentions one applicant who was reprimanded by his boss for accessing pornography on his work computer. Another, who had a clearance for over 25 years, had been engaging in an off-and-on affair with his college roommate’s wife.
…Generally, any adjudication reports about individual government employees that are made public keep the subject anonymous. However, the unredacted files are kept in the OPM’s adjudication records, which were compromised by the cyberattack. That, in turn, would give foreign spies the easy ability to put names to reports and use the information to their advantage.
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