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U.S. data hack may be 4 times larger than the government originally said

Washington (CNN)The personal data of an estimated 18 million current, former and prospective federal employees were affected by a cyber breach at the Office of Personnel Management - more than four times the 4.2 million the agency has publicly acknowledged. The number is expected to grow, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.

FBI Director James Comey gave the 18 million estimate in a closed-door briefing to Senators in recent weeks, using the OPM's own internal data, according to U.S. officials briefed on the matter. Those affected could include people who applied for government jobs, but never actually ended up working for the government.

The same hackers who accessed OPM's data are believed to have last year breached an OPM contractor, KeyPoint Government Solutions, U.S. officials said. When the OPM breach was discovered in April, investigators found that KeyPoint security credentials were used to breach the OPM system.

Some investigators believe that after that intrusion last year, OPM officials should have blocked all access from KeyPoint, and that doing so could have prevented more serious damage. But a person briefed on the investigation says OPM officials don't believe such a move would have made a difference. That's because the OPM breach is believed to have pre-dated the KeyPoint breach. Hackers are also believed to have built their own backdoor access to the OPM system, armed with high-level system administrator access to the system. One official called it the "keys to the kingdom." KeyPoint did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

U.S. investigators believe the Chinese government is behind the cyber intrusion, which are considered the worst ever against the U.S. government. More...

06-23-2015 04:13

Cyberattack Exposes I.R.S. Tax Returns

WASHINGTON — Criminals used stolen data to gain access to past tax returns of more than 100,000 people through an application on the Internal Revenue Service’s website, the agency said on Tuesday.

Using Social Security numbers, birth dates, street addresses and other personal information obtained elsewhere, the criminals completed a multistep authentication process and requested the tax returns and other filings, the I.R.S. said. Information from those forms was used to file fraudulent returns, the I.R.S. said, and the agency sent nearly $50 million in refunds before it detected the scheme.

“We’re confident that these are not amateurs,” John Koskinen, the I.R.S. commissioner, said. “These actually are organized crime syndicates that not only we but everybody in the financial industry are dealing with.” More...

05-29-2015 19:14

Hackers are draining bank accounts via the Starbucks app

Thieves are stealing money from people's credit cards, bank and PayPal accounts -- by first tapping into their Starbucks mobile app.

Starbucks (SBUX) on Wednesday acknowledged that criminals have been breaking into individual customer rewards accounts.

The Starbucks app lets you pay at checkout with your phone. It can also reload Starbucks gift cards by automatically drawing funds from your bank account, credit card or PayPal.

That's how criminals are siphoning money away from victims. They break into a victim's Starbucks account online, add a new gift card, transfer funds over -- and repeat the process every time the original card reloads. More...

05-14-2015 16:47

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