"It's across federal agencies. It's everybody," an OPM spokesman told CNNMoney on Friday.
In a Mission Impossible-type scenario, the thieves could create physical copies using latex or similar materials, then break into the fingerprint-locked devices of U.S. diplomats and government agents. This would expose secret conversations, disrupt investigations or poison international negotiations. More...
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...
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...
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