Fingerprint data stolen
WASHINTON – Hackers who stole security clearance data on millions of Defence Department and other United States government employees got away with about 5.6 million fingerprint records, some 4.5 million more than initially reported, the government said on Wednesday.
During an ongoing analysis of the data breach, the estimated number of people who had fingerprint records stolen rose from 1.1 million to about 5.6 million, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said in a statement.
OPM has estimated a total of 21.5 million people had their Social Security identification numbers and other sensitive information stolen in the hacking incident earlier this spring. The discovery of additional missing fingerprints did not affect that overall total, it said.
U.S. officials have privately blamed the breach on Chinese government hackers, but they have avoided saying so publicly. Officials also have said no evidence has surfaced yet suggesting the stolen data has been abused, though they fear the theft could present counterintelligence problems.
OPM said in its statement the discovery of additional stolen fingerprints came as officials from OPM and the Defence Department were analysing data affected by the incident.
OPM downplayed the danger of stolen fingerprint records, saying the ability to misuse the data is currently limited. But it acknowledged the threat could increase over time as technology evolves.
The Defence Department and OPM are working together to begin mailing notifications to the people whose information was stolen, the OPM statement said. (Reuters)