government data breachOne of the largest thefts of government data ever seen was announced today by the Department of Homeland Security, which is working with the FBI to investigate the attack. The government data breach, which involved the infiltration of the systems of both the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department, exposed the information of at least 4 million current and former federal government workers. The OPM is the human resources department for the federal government and conducts more than 90% of the background checks needed for security clearances across the U.S. government. That means this breach could potentially affect every federal agency — including intelligence agencies, which could put certain people at risk. Although hackers based in China are suspected of perpetrating the attack, a perpetrator hasn’t been confirmed.

How was this government data breach discovered?

The Department of Homeland Security’s intrusion detection system, known as EINSTEIN, detected the breach of OMP’s systems and the Interior Department’s data center in April. By the beginning of May, the hack had been confirmed, and the Department of Homeland Security is continuing to monitor to watch for any additional attacks. This is not the first time in the past year that the federal government has suffered a breach; in November, a Department of Homeland Security breach compromised the information of 25,000 employees. Government officials have said that the November attack is unrelated to this most recent one. At this time, the investigation has not been completed, so there’s a possibility more records were stolen than is currently known.

What this means for you

According to OPM’s press release, it has plans to notify all affected people and offer credit report monitoring, identity theft insurance and recovery and free access to their credit reports. If you are a federal government employee, it’s important to look into identity theft protection service on your own and be on the lookout for suspicious activity on your credit reports and accounts. Although this doesn’t affect everyone, it’s still sobering to learn hackers have perpetrated so deeply into the U.S. government’s systems. Follow the steps detailed on this blog post to learn how you can prevent your information from getting breached, and visit our identity theft protection blog to find out how to protect yourself and your family from identity theft.