Union claims all US fed­eral work­ers fell vic­tim to hack­ers in re­cent attack


A ma­jor fed­eral union says the cy­ber theft of em­ployee in­for­ma­tion is more dam­ag­ing than it first ap­peared, as­sert­ing that hack­ers stole per­son­nel data and tax iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers for ev­ery fed­eral em­ployee.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had ac­knowl­edged that up to 4 mil­lion cur­rent and for­mer em­ploy­ees are af­fected by the De­cem­ber cy­ber breach of Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment data, but it had been vague about ex­actly what was taken.

But J. David Cox, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Fed­eral of Gov­ern­ment Em­ploy­ees, said in a let­ter Thurs­day to OPM direc­tor Kather­ine Archuleta that based on in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion OPM pro­vided to the union, “we be­lieve that the Cen­tral Per­son­nel Data File was the tar­geted data­base, and that the hack­ers are now in pos­ses­sion of all per­son­nel data for ev­ery fed­eral em­ployee, ev­ery fed­eral re­tiree, and up to 1 mil­lion for­mer fed­eral em­ploy­ees.”

The OPM data file con­tains the records of non-mil­i­tary, non-in­tel­li­gence ex­ec­u­tive branch em­ploy­ees, which cov­ers most fed­eral civil­ian em­ploy­ees but not, for ex­am­ple, mem­bers of Congress and their staffs.

The union be­lieves the hack­ers stole mil­i­tary records and vet­er­ans’ sta­tus in­for­ma­tion, ad­dress, birth date, job and pay his­tory, health in­sur­ance, life in­sur­ance, and pen­sion in­for­ma­tion; and age, gen­der and race data, he said.

Also Thurs­day, Sen. Harry Reid, the Demo­cratic Se­nate leader, said that the hack was car­ried out by “the Chi­nese” with­out spec­i­fy­ing whether he meant the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment or in­di­vid­u­als. Reid is one of eight law­mak­ers briefed on the most se­cret in­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion. U.S. of­fi­cials have de­clined to pub­licly blame China, which has de­nied in­volve­ment.

The union, which does not have di­rect ac­cess to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said it is bas­ing its as­sess­ment on “sketchy” in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by OPM. The agency has sought to down­play the dam­age, say­ing what was taken “could in­clude” per­son­nel file in­for­ma­tion such as tax iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers and birth dates.

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