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OPM underestimated number of fingerprint thefts by 4.5M

By Andrew V. Pestano
OPM underestimated number of fingerprint thefts by 4.5M
The Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday it underestimated the amount of victims whose fingerprints were stolen in this year's data breach by 4 million people. File Photo by Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday it underestimated the amount of victims whose fingerprints were stolen in this year's data breach by 4.5 million people.

The original estimate of people whose fingerprints were stolen has been increased to 5.6 million, up from 1.1 million, after OPM discovered archived records that were not previously analyzed, The Hill reported.

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About 21.5 million former, current and prospective federal employees and contractors were affected by the OPM data breach in the spring. The new estimates do not affect the overall number.

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence and national security agencies are working on how the exploited data could potentially be used by criminals.

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"If, in the future, new means are developed to misuse the fingerprint data, the government will provide additional information to individuals whose fingerprints may have been stolen in this breach," an OPM spokesman said in a statement.

The OPM will work with the Department of Defense to begin notifying people who were impacted by the data breach. Some victims may not know their data was taken until November.

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The data breach generated mass criticism of the OPM. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said the underestimation of fingerprint data theft was more evidence of OPM mismanagement.

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"Today's blatant news dump is the clearest sign yet that the administration still acts like the OPM hack is a PR crisis instead of a national security threat," Sasse said in a statement. "The American people have no reason to believe that they've heard the full story and every reason to believe that Washington assumes they are too stupid or preoccupied to care about cyber security."

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On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country was willing to cooperate with the United States on the controversial act of cybercrime, while denying China has ever participated in hacking. China has been accused of committing the OPM data breach.

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