Information of U.S. federal employees exposed

A computer run by service provider Serco was compromised in July last year

A hack in July last year of a computer used by third-party services provider Serco to support the Thrift Savings Plan run by the U.S. Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board resulted in unauthorized access to the personal information of about 123,201 TSP participants and payees, FRTIB said Friday.

Serco and FRTIB were alerted in April by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that one of the computers used to service TSP had been the victim of unauthorized access. Besides shutting down the computer, FRTIB and Serco did forensic analysis to determine which people were affected, and enhanced the security, FRTIB and Serco said in separate statements. Serco confirmed that its computer had been affected.

Several files with different combinations of data of the individuals were accessed, FRTIB said. The names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of about 43,000 individuals were in the accessed files.  In some cases, this group of data also included financial account numbers and routing numbers, it added.

Another group of about 80,000 people had their Social Security numbers and some TSP-related information accessed, but their name was not associated with the information, FRTIB said.

TSP is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services, administered by the FRTIB.

"There is no evidence of any funds being diverted or identity theft resulting from the incident," Serco in Reston, Virginia, said. There was also no evidence that the TSP network, which supports the savings plan's 4.5 million participants, was the victim of an unauthorized access, it added.

The TSP does not have any evidence that any personal information has been used or is being misused or disclosed to other persons, FRTIB said.

FRTIB said it is sending notification letters to affected persons, providing them information on how to contact a call center set up to provide support and services such as credit montoring. Alerts will be placed on the affected TSP accounts to monitor activity as an added precaution. It has already sent notification letters on Friday to all those whose personal information was on the files.

The FRTIB has hired risk consulting company Kroll to provide its ID TheftSmart service for one year to the affected individuals.

FRTIB and Serco executives expressed regret for the incident in separate statements.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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