US govt's OPM underestimated the number of stolen fingerprints by 4.5 million

The agency revised its previous estimate of 1.1 million after finding archived records.

The number of people whose fingerprints have been stolen as a result of the high-profile hack into the computer systems of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management earlier this year is now 5.6 million.

The agency revised its original estimate of 1.1 million Wednesday after finding fingerprint data in archived records that had previously not been taken into account.

This does not change the overall number of 21.5 million former, current and prospective federal employees and contractors whose Social Security numbers, personal information and background investigation records were exposed in the breach.

The OPM announced in June that it was the target of a cybersecurity breach that resulted in the theft of personnel data including full names, birth dates, home addresses, and Social Security numbers of 4.2 million current and former government employees.

A subsequent investigation revealed that sensitive data on 21.5 million people who underwent background checks, including federal employees or contractors and their spouses or cohabitants, had also been compromised.

Around 5.6 million of those records are now known to have also included fingerprints.

A working group of experts from the FBI, DHS, DOD and the intelligence community are working to understand the potential ways in which attackers could use the fingerprint data.

For now, federal experts believe that the possibility of misuse is limited, but they're working to develop defenses against potential abuse, the agency said. "If, in the future, new means are developed to misuse the fingerprint data, the government will provide additional information to individuals whose fingerprints may have been stolen in this breach."

All affected individuals and their minor dependent children are eligible for free identity theft and fraud protection services.

Bloomberg reported in July, citing anonymous sources, that a hacker group from China was responsible for the security breaches at both OPM and health insurer Anthem. According to security firm Symantec, the group that breached Anthem has access to an attack platform called the Elderwood framework that is shared by multiple cyberespionage groups based in China.

Some security experts believe that the data stolen from OPM is a counterintelligence gold mine that could allow a foreign intelligence agency to unmask undercover U.S. agents, identify people with security clearances to target, or to use potentially embarrassing information against employees to turn them into informants.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?