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Hack of federal personnel agency worse than reported, union says

By Doug G. Ware
A labor union for nearly 700,000 federal employees on Friday said a massive data breach of the Office of Personnel Management in December involved far more people than government officials first admitted to. Photo: Mark Van Scyoc / ShutterStock
A labor union for nearly 700,000 federal employees on Friday said a massive data breach of the Office of Personnel Management in December involved far more people than government officials first admitted to. Photo: Mark Van Scyoc / ShutterStock

WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- The cyber intrusion of a database of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management six months ago -- which compromised data involving millions of federal workers -- was far worse and lasted longer than officials admitted to, a federal employee union said Friday.

The American Federation of Government Employees, a labor union that represents employees of the federal government, said the hacker exposed "all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to one million former federal employees."

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The government disclosed the breach in April and believe it may have originated in China. The hack affected 2.1 million current federal workers, 1.1 former federal workers and another million retired employees.

The new accusations were lodged by J. David Cox, president of the AFGE, in a letter to the OPM -- who also noted that affected employees haven't been able to get answers about how vulnerable they are to the exposed data, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

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Some in the AFGE, which represents nearly 700,000 employees of the government's executive branch, also believe the number of people affected is actually larger than the government claimed.

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The AFGE also said the hackers accessed the sensitive data for more than a year before it was finally detected, ABC News reported Friday.

"If [only] they knew the full extent of it," one source close to the investigation hinted.

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The OPM is particularly concerned about federal employees stationed overseas, who might be vulnerable if foreign governments get a hold of the stolen data.

The agency said those affected by the breach will be notified within the next two weeks, when they will also be told exactly what information may have been compromised.

The OPM refused on Friday to detail the stolen data, citing the ongoing investigation.

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