Hackers stole personal data on every US federal employee, says union

One of the eight members of Congress briefed on intelligence matters also publicly said it was "the Chinese."

(Image: Office of Personnel Management)

Hackers were able to steal far more data than first thought on every US federal employee, a government workers union has said.

A letter dated Thursday sent by J. David Cox, president of the American Federal of Government Employees (AFGE) which represents more than 670,000 federal employees, claimed the breach of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in early June was significantly worse than what the Obama administration first claimed.

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.

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From the letter, widely circulated after it was sent, the union claims "all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to one million federal employees" was stolen.

That's also thought to include Social Security numbers that were "not encrypted," said the letter, adding that it was "absolutely indefensible and outrageous."

The union said its assertions were based on the "sketchy information OPM has provided."

That directly challenges the government's position that the stolen database was not thought to have contained information on employees applying for security clearance.

The latest twist comes hours after Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor that "the Chinese" carried out the attack on the federal agency last week. Reid is one of a handful of members of Congress, dubbed the "Gang of Eight," privy to sensitive and classified intelligence data from the National Security Agency and other US federal agencies.

It's not clear if he misspoke or was repeating classified information.

The Obama administration has not outright blamed any one individual, group, or state. The FBI previously declined to comment on who it thought was behind the attack.

We have reached out to the OPM for comment.

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