OPM – The Latest in a String of High-Profile Data Breaches

July 1, 2015 — Leave a comment

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32 Million Important Records

Are you up on OPM? 18 Million personnel records breached in the Office of Personnel Management.  It’s the latest in a string of high-profile data breaches our government has suffered. There’s been some reporting on this, but not nearly enough.  The number was first reported around 4 million, then 18, and now, after a recent congressional hearing, the number may actually be as high as 32 million.  But there’s more…

Here’s what you need to know…

1. L. Gordon Crovitz, columnist for the Wall Street Journal writes, “The Chinese hackers managed to gain “administrator privileges,” allowing them full access to the computers …among other things, they were able to download confidential forms that list “close or continuous contacts,” including those overseas.” He goes on to report, “That’s not the worst of it. The administration disclosed a separate intrusion that gave Beijing full access to the confidential background-check information …that includes the 4.5 million Americans who currently have access to the country’s top secrets. The potential for blackmail is chilling.”

2. Much blame is being cast on the Chinese for this attack, however Crovitz points out that, given the opportunity, any government who has access to another government’s records is going to take them; the US included. It’s up to the US government to make sure our data isn’t available to other countries.  We saw fines and personnel changes when Home Depot and Target were hit – what happens when the Government, the ones who impose these fines on private sector companies, make the same mistakes?  It’s an interesting question…

3. The fallout is potentially big.  While a recent Wall Street article suggests that the US data has not shown up in online chat rooms yet, Crovitz calls this issue a much bigger problem than Edward Snowden’s breach. He writes, “Millions of patriotic Americans entrusted with national secrets are going to lose much of their privacy because their government was unable to protect their confidential personnel records…That loss of privacy dwarfs the hypothetical risks from the NSA that have dominated the headlines.”

4. Other reports discuss national security… These “hackers accessed not only personnel files but security-clearance forms, current and former U.S. officials said. Such forms contain information that foreign intelligence agencies could use to target espionage operations.” WSJ. Apparently the government officials announced the personnel attacks, but held back on the security-clearance theft for at least a week.

Stay on top – learn the sound bites… in my book, The House & the Cloud, chapter 6, I discuss the power of sound bites and how to effectively use them (and how not to use them) in a sales call.

© 2015, David Stelzl

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