There was a massive hack of the United States government.
It was carried out by a hostile foreign power.
But it wasn’t the hacking of Democrats’ emails during the election.
It was much worse.
In 2015, Chinese hackers penetrated the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
They stole the personal data of 21.5 million individuals.
And the data they lifted could have national security implications for America.
That’s because the OPM database contains the applications for an overwhelming majority of security clearances handed out by the United States government.
This information included access to the names and addresses of the family members of federal employees with security clearances.
ABC News reports:
“Much of that data has been stored on OPM systems housed by the Department of the Interior in a Denver-area data center, sources said. And one of the four “segments” compromised held forms filled out by federal employees seeking security clearances.
As ABC News previously reported, the 127-page forms — known as SF-86’s and used for background investigations — ask applicants for personal information not only about themselves but also relatives, friends, and potentially even college roommates.
OPM insists the information compromised by the intrusion into its systems does “not [include] the names of family members.”
“Family members of employees were not affected by this breach,” OPM says on its website.
However, U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity say unequivocally such information was put at serious risk by the OPM hack. Of utmost concern are U.S. employees stationed overseas, including in countries such as China, whose government would covet personal information on relatives and contacts of American officials living in the communist country, according to officials.
“If the SF-86’s associated with this hack were, in their entirety, part of the stolen information, then that would mean the potential release of a staggering amount of information, affecting an exponential amount of people,” one U.S. official told ABC News on Sunday.”
The personal information of federal employees with security clearances falling into the hands of a foreign adversary is a frightening prospect.
It opens them up to blackmail and could allow foreign intelligence services to compromise them.
This serious intrusion into U.S. government databases was not met with a public response by the Obama administration.
Many Americans were concerned that Obama treated the hacking of email accounts belonging to his political cronies as an excuse to escalate tensions with Russia.
35 diplomats were expelled and new sanctions were imposed on Russia based on allegations that hackers connected to the Russian government released emails obtained from the personal accounts of Democrat Party political operatives.
But the lack of a response to the OPM hack is troubling.
It has been revealed that the hackers were undetected for more than a year.
And the information they obtained were not bits of trivial political gossip.
The Chinese hackers have the names, addresses, and even the social security numbers of federal employees who applied for a security clearance.
Their lives could be at risk as the information could be sold on a black market to terrorist groups or other hostile foreign actors.
Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest was pressed as to why the OPM hack didn’t warrant the same public action from the Obama administration as the supposed Russian hacking.
Hot Air reports:
“JON KARL, ABC: So when the Chinese hacked OPM in 2015, 21+ million current and former government employees and contractors had their personal data stolen by the Chinese. Why did the White House do nothing publicly in reaction to that hack? Which in some ways, was even more widespread than what we saw here from the Russians?
JOSH EARNEST: These are two cyber incidents that are malicious in nature but materially different.
KARL: 20 million people had their personal data taken… fingerprints, social security numbers, background checks. This was a far-reaching act–
EARNEST: I’m not downplaying the significance of it, I’m just saying that it is different than seeking to interfere int he conduct of a U.S. national election. I can’t speak to the steps that have been taken by the United States in response to that Chinese malicious cyber activity–
KARL: But nothing was announced. There was not a single step announced by the White House.
EARNEST: It is true that there was no public announcement about our response, but I can’t speak to what response may have been initiated in private.
KARL: But no diplomats expelled, no compounds shut down, no sanctions imposed, correct? You don’t do that stuff secretly.”
Some critics argue this is an example of the overall lax attitude the Obama administration took towards matters of cyber security.
This mentality only emboldened hackers to push their luck and try to gain access – which they ultimately succeeded in doing – into email accounts associated with our political system.