Unfortunately, 2016 has brought news of another government data breach, this latest one affecting workers at both Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Information on thousands of employees was accessed by an intruder, though a Justice Department spokesperson has said there is no evidence at this time that "personally identifiable information" was breached. When the hack took place is unclear, but it marks the latest in a growing number of federal security failures.
The data breach was announced by government officials in a statement today, though details are still slight at this time. According to officials, the data breach seems to be the result of someone who impersonated a government worker and was able to access parts of the system he or she shouldn't have. How this individual manage to do this was not disclosed.
This hack is relatively small, but only in light of the massive hack that happened in summer 2015. Government officials revealed at the time that someone — Chinese hackers have been blamed — hit the Office of Personnel Management with a cyberattack, accessing the personal information of about 4 million federal workers…past and present. That number was later revised, with the OPM disclosing that potentially all federal workers were exposed by the data breach.
That wasn’t the end, though. During the same time period, government officials revealed that yet another hack had taken place, that one focusing on security clearance forms containing personal information on military members and intelligence employees. That hack, as well, is believed to have originated from China, and involved the Standard Form 86, which is filled out in a bid to get a security clearance.
This time around, details about what kind of information may have been exposed is missing. In the case of the security clearance form breach, however, it was revealed that very personal information was compromised, including things as varied and intimate as one’s drug history, the contact information for relatives, medical issues, and more.
Federal data breaches haven’t been limited to government employees, though. Last year, news surfaced of a breach involving the IRS website, allowing hackers to gain details on hundreds of thousands of tax payers. In that case, sources surfaced claiming the government was eyeing Russia as the potential source. This hack ultimately led to a lawsuit from a couple victims who sought class-actions status on behalf of all affected.
SOURCE: New York Times