|Benjie Batanes |||Jun 05, 2015 11:27 AM EDT|
(Photo : Reuters/Kacper Pempel) The database of the Office of Personnel Management was breached on December 2014. U.S. suspects Chinese hackers were involved.
A United States federal agency that keeps the personal data of existing and former government employees has been hacked by unknown hackers. US officials have noted that they suspect Chinese hackers to be behind the incident, but a top Chinese officials has denied the government's complicity in the data breach.
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Chinese Embassy spokesperson Zhu Haiquan denied the allegations that his government is involved in the OPM hacking case. Zhu said that the Chinese government does not allow cyber crimes. He adds that it is "not responsible and counterproductive" for the U.S. to hurl unfounded allegations against his government.
The Washington Post reported that the database of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was compromised in December last year. On Thursday, June 4, federal authorities announced that they will contact and inform the people whose personal information may have been hacked. It is estimated that there are around four million of them - people who are currently employed or former employees of the federal government.
Homeland Security released a statement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently investigating the circumstances of the data breach, according to the Chicago Tribune.
NBC News said the White House is yet to find out the extent of the damage involved in the latest hacking incident. Officials have generally downplayed the digital break-in at OPM. They noted that the names of the secret agents working for the country's intelligence agencies have not been hacked into.
Nevertheless, this cyber attack ihas been described as the largest yet since it may involve every U.S. government office.
The OPM admitted that personnel records which may have been compromised include names, date of birth, and social security numbers. As of Monday, June 1, OPM had started notifying the affected current and former federal employees.
NBC News quoted Senate Intelligence Committee and Republican Senator Susan Colins who said that the potentially compromised government employee data may have serious ramifications.
American legislators see the breach as a sign that United States should take stronger measures to protect the government networks.
California and Democrat Senator Adam Shiff said that the recent digital attack has undermined the belief that the government's cyber defense is the best in the world. North Carolina Senator Richard Burr said that such cyber attacks should be prevented in the future.
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