The Office of Personnel Management’s hack attack just keeps getting bigger. In a statement released this week, the federal agency warning about 5.6 million fingerprints were lifted – way, way more than originally thought and reported.
Initially, the government figured about 1.1 million fingerprints were stolen in the summer cyberattack, believed by some intelligence agents to have come at the hands of the Chinese. But now that estimate has bloomed five-fold.
OPM and Department of Defense officials are investigating, the Washington Post reported. But the fingerprint thefts are even more alarming than the previously reported stolen Social Security and password data on 21 million past and present federal employees, including those who’ve served in the military, as WND has previously covered. Why?
Fingerprints can’t be changed, and analysts say the fallout from this particular aspect of the breach could therefore reverberate for years.
“The fact that the number [of fingerprints stole] just increased by a factor of five is pretty mind-boggling,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, in the Washington Post. “I’m surprised they didn’t have structures in place to determine the number of fingerprints compromised earlier during the investigation.”
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are growing weary of the ever-changing OPM reports.
“OPM keeps getting it wrong,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Washington Post reported. “I have zero confidence in OPM’s competence and ability to manage this crisis.”
OPM, for its part, downplayed the significance of the stolen prints.
“If, in the future, new means are developed to misuse the fingerprint data, the government will provide additional information to individuals whose fingerprints may have been stolen in this breach,” the agency said.
As WND previously reported, the recent cyberattacks on OPM have led to concerns of Russia and China compiling a massive database on key U.S. officials.