US Health Insurance firms Anthem and Premera learnt it the hard way last year when personal data of more than 78 million and 11 million users respectively were stolen. This time, sensitive files of employees at the Office of Personnel Management have been stolen and not less than 4 million users are at stake.
The common element in both these instances, other than the obvious security breach, is perhaps the perpetrators that are behind this doing. Like in the previous case, it is suspected that Chinese hackers are behind this breach and the US government agencies are working on compiling more data to substantiate their claims.
The OPM hack, the common reference to this security breach instance, has put in peril personal information of current employees and former employees including government contractors. This security breach is definitely one of the biggest hacks of recent times and the fact that none of the stolen identities have yet been used to create fraudulent credit cards or take part in other online crimes make the intentions of the hackers even nastier and scary. It appears that they are simply collecting large databases of personal information of the Americans and waiting to strike at the right time.
Till the time FBI and other US government agencies that are investigating this case come up with the final details of this hack, the wait is very ‘uncomforting’ and ‘creepy’. The OPM is taking the required steps to enhance its network security and counsel the affected employees. It is also planning to send alerts to the people whose data may have been stolen during this hack to remain vigilant with the transactions in their bank accounts, which could hint at possible identity theft instances.
In the meantime, China has dismissed all the allegations stating that without investigation, such claims are ‘irresponsible and unscientific’. Hong Lei, Foreign Ministry spokesman, further issued in a statement that, “We know that hacker attacks are conducted anonymously, across nations, and that it is hard to track the source”.