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Stop the Secrecy

The Verge: U.S. government workers' social security numbers stolen

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 15:31 -- Eva Prkachin

U.S. government employees are the latest victims of a massive, likely state-sponsored, cyber security breach. Do you worry about how well government entities look after the online data they store about us?

Article by Dante D'Orazio for the Verge

US government employees are the victims of the latest security breach. A contractor for the government has revealed that sensitive information on at least 25,000 workers has been obtained as a result of a cyber attack. The information includes standard personal details like Social Security numbers and birth dates, as well as workers' educational and criminal backgrounds. It also includes information on family members, relatives, and acquaintances.

The data is so complete because the hack targeted a company named US Investigations Services, or USIS, which handles background checks for agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security. The breach specifically included information on employees at the agency's Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection departments, according to Reuters. It could also contain information on some undercover workers. In a statement, the company said that "records including this data were exposed to unauthorized users during the cybersecurity intrusion," adding. "we do not yet know whether the data was actually taken."

The attack was first revealed earlier this month, at which time the company said that it had "all the markings of a state-sponsored attack." Only now has the breadth of the attack been revealed. If the cyber attack was executed by or for a foreign nation, experts suggest the info could be used to coerce or blackmail workers at the Department of Homeland security. The agency, created after the events of September 11th, is charged with preventing terrorist attacks on US soil, and it is in charge of border control, among other tasks. Since the attack was revealed, the agency has stopped doing work with USIS as the FBI continues its investigation into the breach.

- Read more at The Verge

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