WASHINGTON — The government Thursday disclosed a second hack attack on federal employee records, one that could involve information on some 21.5 million Americans, federal officials said.
An investigative team “has now concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases,” said a report from the Office of Personnel Management.
The report added that “this includes 19.7 million individuals that applied for a background investigation, and 1.8 million non-applicants, predominantly spouses or co-habitants of applicants.”
In investigating the hack attack that it announced June 4, the OPM report said that during its probe it “recently discovered that additional systems were compromised.”
The office said “these systems included those that contain information related to the background investigations of current, former, and prospective Federal government employees, as well as other individuals for whom a Federal background investigation was conducted.”
he data thefts included background investigations of millions of prospective federal employees, each of whom listed a number of personal references, including personal information of those references.
When the Office of Personnel Management disclosed a hack attack in early June, it said was notifying up to 4 million current and former employees.
Thursday’s announcement involves more than five times that original number.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating the hack that some officials have traced to China.
The Chinese government has denied involvement.