After a tumultuous few weeks for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a second data breach has been confirmed which is said to have affected up to 14 million stolen records.
White House officials believe that the attackers accessed a document called ‘Standard Form 86’, which is filled out by people applying for national security positions. These forms hold a wealth of sensitive information, including drug and alcohol use, mental illness, bankruptcy, arrests, as well as a list of contacts and relatives, which could potentially extend the scope of the breach to millions more Americans.
Now, not only has information been stolen from military and intelligence personnel in this second attack, but also the breach likely extends outside of the federal government.
The attacks were likely carried out by the same hackers – who have ties to China – who infiltrated the OPM’s server and stole 4.2 million federal employees’ data earlier this year.
For security reasons, the OPM is not discussing specifics of the second breach, but it is clear that the US Government is under increased pressure to fix the vulnerabilities within its systems before any more newsworthy breaches happen.
30-day Cybersecurity Sprint
Following these major breaches, the White House has tried to fight back by launching a 30-day programme to boost cybersecurity protocols across the government. The program asks agencies to take specific steps over the next month to better protect sensitive information and make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to federal systems.
Those steps include:
- to fix any cybersecurity vulnerabilities immediately;
- tighten policies and practices for privileged users who can access sensitive information;
- implement multi-factor authentication procedures for accessing federal networks;
- employ electronic “indicators” provided by the Department of Homeland Security that show when there has been a malicious cyberattack.
Source: Washington Times
This screams ‘all a little too late’, but at least the government is finally sitting up to take notice of the cyber threat and taking some sort of action.
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