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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucian Constantin

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?