The second admission followed a week later. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that on June 4, a hack attack had succeeded on governmental staff – four million people affected. It now appears that an additional 18 million records were stolen. The government, communicated this as two separate events in an apparent attempt to downplay the scale.
So what happened in the alleged second hack? That 18 million Social Security numbers have been compromised, is a “preliminary, unverified, approximate” according to a letter from the Director of OPM, Katherine Archuleta. The number — 18 million – affects people working for a federal agency or who applied for funding. The data, according to US government circles, may be in the hands of spies from the People’s Republic of China. This has been flatly denied by Chinese officials.
Mrs. Archuleta was called to testify before a Congressional committee: Encryptions are not always possible due to the age of facilities. She argued, however, that even encryption would have not sufficed, because the hackers would then have copied keys and passwords.
An article from the Wall Street Journal mentions that the government described the attack as happening in two waves in orde rto downlplay the severity. In addition, the OPM had denied the disclosure of sensitive information twice, even though the FBI had informed the OPM on June 5 about the attack…