OPM Hack- employees dirty laundry in the hands of a foreign government

 In Domestic, Foreign

Have you ever filled out an SF 86 form for the government? It’s a 127 page highly intrusive form  that even asks for information on your indiscretions- your affairs. And thanks to the recent hacks into the Office of Personnel Management, that information may now be in the hands of a foreign government. It is a treasure trove for spies. The current theory is that China hacked the OPM. If so, dangerous info is in their possession.

OPM hack

How extensive was the hack into the Office of Personnel Management (nextgov.com photo)

Reuters reported,

Among other things, applicants must list where they have lived; contacts with foreign citizens and travel abroad; the names and personal details of relatives; illegal drug use and mental health counseling except in limited circumstances.

A review of appeals of security denials published on the web shows the variety of information now in possession of the hackers, including financial troubles, infidelities, psychiatric diagnoses, substance abuse, health issues and arrests.

“It’s kind of scary that somebody could know that much about us,” said a former senior U.S. diplomat, pointing out the ability to use such data to impersonate an American official online, obtain passwords and plunder bank accounts.

The Darknet

According to the Union that governs federal employees, the AFGE, the hack exposed every federal employee. Information on up to 4 million federal employees, including retirees, was breached by the hacks. Of course the government downplays that figure, but with two hacks right in a row, concerns have been growing about the actual extent of the breach.

Some of the information stolen has already surfaced on what is called the “darknet” – a private network used by the seediest of online users and only accessible by special software.

9,500 government more log-in credentials were found to be stolen last week from different county, state and federal agencies across the nation. Everything from Healthcare.gov, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Court System to the Child Support agency and Unemployment Agency in Ohio.

China- if indeed they are the culprits (the investigation is continuing on that) may ow have enough ammo to seriously damage and endanger operatives abroad, and the security or safety of those here in the states.

“Whoever now holds OPM’s records possesses something like the Holy Grail from a [counter-intelligence] perspective. They can target Americans in their database for recruitment or influence. After all, they know their vices, every last one — the gambling habit, the inability to pay bills on time, the spats with former spouses, the taste for something sexual on the side perhaps with someone of a different gender than your normal partner — since all that is recorded in security clearance paperwork.” John Schindler, former counterintelligence officer

 

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