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.