As federal agency reels from massive data breach, Chinese hackers blamed

The data breach, said to be one of the biggest in the federal government's history, affects around four million former and current civil servants.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
(Image: OPM/stock image)

The US government is badly leaking data. And China, the prime suspect in the latest data breach, isn't helping.

The most recent victim of a massive data breach is the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal agency responsible for vetting about 90 percent of the people for working in the federal government.

The federal agency said Thursday its systems were breached in April

That vetting data is reportedly safe, said officials, but performance reviews and job assignments data may have been taken.

The FBI said it's working with other federal agencies to investigate the breach, as well as notifying about four million people whose information is said to have been stolen.

"We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace," an FBI statement said.

The scope of the breach, though unclear, may affect every federal agency, said one US official speaking to the Associated Press, who declined to be named.

While the federal agency has been in the process of upgrading its systems in the past year in an effort to get ahead of any breach, it didn't come soon enough. A statement from the OPM said that the stolen data had "predated the adoption of these security controls."

But officials are already ready to pin the blame for what they are saying may not only be just the biggest breach of government data in recent years -- but perhaps ever.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, Chinese hackers may have been to blame for breaking into the agency's systems.

But at the time of writing, neither the White House nor any named official has said on the record that Beijing was directly involved.

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