Do you or any of your family work for the federal government? If so, prepare to change all of your computer passwords and consider doing the same at your bank.
At least four million current and former civil service workers have had their privacy violated by hackers who breached computer systems at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Department of the Interior.
According to a report in The Washington Post, the attack was carried out by Chinese hackers, as have previous U.S. industrial breaches.
OPM notified those whose “personally identifiable information” may have been compromised, offering 18 months of credit monitoring for those who were affected.
OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told journalists at a news conference the government is working on trying to improve its cyber security. “We take very seriously our responsibility to secure the information stored in our systems,” she said.
The breach was first detected in late April and confirmed in early May. It is unclear when the attack began.
It is the Department of Homeland Security that is tasked with cyber defense. DHS officials said they were working with the FBI to get to the bottom of who was behind the current attack.
“DHS is continuing to monitor federal networks for any suspicious activity and is working aggressively with the affected agencies to conduct investigative analyses to assess the extent of this alleged intrusion,” DHS spokesperson Sy Lee said.
Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said “The cyber threat from hackers, criminals, terrorists and state actors is one of the greatest challenges we face on a daily basis, and it’s clear that a substantial improvement in our cyber databases and defenses is perilously overdue.”