21.5 million Americans' personal information was stolen in a government hack

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Today, the Office of Personnel Management announced that about 21.5 million people had their personal information, like social security numbers, compromised by a massive security breach. The information was initially collected via the kinds of background checks that people submit themselves to for work and other professional reasons.


In addition to peoples’ SSNs, information about their mental health statuses, previous drug use, legal histories, and other highly sensitive information was confirmed to have been leaked. The OPM explained that the breach actually consisted of two individual attacks on its database. According to the OPM, anyone who registered for a background check after the year 2000 might have had their information scraped by an unauthorized.

Even more troubling is the fact that a large number of the people whose information was compromised didn’t necessarily give their information over to the OPM in the first place: 19.7 million of the compromised profiles were submitted themselves, but about 1.8 million of the people affected by the hack were spouses to those people.


"Since at least 2007, OPM leadership has been on notice about the vulnerabilities to its network and cybersecurity policies and practices," Jason Chaffetz, House Oversight Committee Chairman, said in a public statement.

Previously, Chaffetz led a group of vocal Republican agitators calling for the resignation of OPM Director Katherine Archuleta. Today, Chaffetz went on to further blame Archuleta and Donna Seymour, OPM’s Chief Information Officer.

"Director Archuleta and Ms. Seymour consciously ignored the warnings and failed to correct these weaknesses,” he said. “Their negligence has now put the personal and sensitive information of 21.5 million Americans into the hands of our adversaries."

Archuleta, responding to Chaffetz’s renewed calls for her resignation, stood her ground, stating that she had no intention of stepping down.


"When I took office in late 2013, one of my priorities was to upgrade OPM's antiquated legacy systems," she said in a public statement of her own. "It is because of the efforts of OPM and its staff that we've been able to identify the breaches."

When asked to give a yes or no as to whether she would be quitting, she stated:

"No I am committed to the work that I am doing at OPM.”

UPDATE: Despite her earlier insistence that had no intentions of leaving her  post, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta has resigned.


"I write to you this afternoon to share that earlier today, I offered and the President accepted my resignation as the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management," she wrote in a letter to OPM staff. "Leading this agency and serving with all of you has been the highlight of my career."

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