US officials believe China-based hackers broke into the computer networks of an American government agency and stole personal data on about 4 million current and former federal workers.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement Thursday that data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department had been compromised, Associated Press reported.
“The FBI is conducting an investigation to identify how and why this occurred,” the statement said.
Though the DHS didn’t identify the source of the attack, media reports cited some US lawmakers as well as unidentified officials as pointing the fingers at China.
AP quoted Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, as saying that the breach was “yet another indication of a foreign power probing successfully and focusing on what appears to be data that would identify people with security clearances.”
The Office of Personnel Management is the human resources department for the federal government, and it conducts background checks for security clearances.
The government agency said it is offering credit monitoring and identity theft insurance for 18 months to individuals potentially affected.
“DHS is continuing to monitor federal networks for any suspicious activity and is working aggressively with the affected agencies to conduct investigative analysis to assess the extent of this alleged intrusion,” it said in its statement.
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