In an announcement on the US Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) site today, it was revealed that the cybersecurity team detected an incident in which the personal information of over four million individuals were affected late last year. The discovery came in April, when officials at the OPM were updating the security tools and protocols they use to protect that information.
News sources like Washington Post are reporting that the attack was Chinese in origin, although that’s coming from unidentified government sources. It’s not too hard to believe, however, considering that this would be the second major breach of data by Chinese hackers in the last year.
Even greater increased security measures are being put into place to prevent any further theft of data. Remote access for network administrators has been restricted, connections were audited to ensure that only in-use, up to date connections are allowed, and more intense anti-malware software has been distributed across the network.
The OPM also lays out a number of steps it suggests affected individuals take to protect themselves, but in reality they’re good choices for any savvy computer user. They suggest being suspicious of unknown phone calls, checking the URLs and email addresses of any correspondence, and not sending personal information over the web without checking the receiving site’s security certificates.
They’re also providing affected individuals with access to credit and financial account monitoring to keep an eye on any suspicious activity. They’re also providing services that protect individuals from having new accounts opened in their names, as well as access to government resources on preventing breaches of security.