This year the U.S has been hit a number of times by hackers. In June many workers were affected when there was a massive data breach. After the hack the U.S government made it a national crisis claiming that they were facing dedicated adversary and an ever evolving threat to the nation’s cyber security.
On Monday the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it will temporarily suspend a program it uses to complete background investigations. The decision was passed after the massive data breach that reportedly affected many governmental officials. The program, called Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP), was not involved in either of two attacks by suspected Chinese hackers on personnel data and applications for security clearances, OPM said. The breaches were announced earlier this month.
After a security review ordered by Director Katherine Archuleta found a vulnerability in the system, OPM said it would take e-QIP offline for 4-6 weeks until security can be enhanced. The agency released a statement claiming that there was no evidence supporting that the vulnerability had been exploited. People are against the agency’s opinion, they believe that the electronic submission system is vulnerable, and some agencies are considering switching to a more old-school process of submitting data on paper reports reuters.
” I recently ordered a comprehensive review of the security of OPM IT systems. During this ongoing review, my team and our interagency partners identified a vulnerability in the e-QIP system. Out of an abundance of caution, I have asked that the system be taken offline until stronger security enhancements are implemented.” The director of OPM said.
“While we add these security enhancements to the network, we expect the e-QIP system could be offline from four to six weeks. All of us at OPM recognize and regret the impact this action will have on both users and agencies, but please know that the team is working hard to quickly implement these security upgrades so that we can resume this service as soon as it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, we will be working with our partner agencies on alternative approaches to meet the needs of our customers.” The director added.
The electronic system is designed to collect massive amounts of personal data, ranging from financial histories to family information, on those undergoing federal background checks. Brian Kaveney, who heads the security clearance practice at the law firm Armstrong Teasdale, said the move would compound a logjam caused by mandatory budget cuts in 2013.
“This security measure will doubtlessly increase the processing time of clearance applications and potentially create a backlog,” Kaveney said.
The massive data breach is now believed to have affected well over 10 million separate users, the sources said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said up to 18 million could have been affected.
Activists and lawmakers in the U.S have raised concerns after the many attacks that were realized by people and the governmental bodies. Lawmakers believe that Archuleta lucks the proper ability to lead OPM. Archuleta has not provided information as to the origin of the breach and the number of people who have been affected leading to the Congress calling for her resignation.
The OPM which is a governmental agency has not been the only body affected by hackers. The U.S. Navy was also surprised when hackers were able to compromise the Army’s website. Later the army decided to take the website down as a precautionary measure to avoid further attacks. In May a billboard in Atlanta was hacked leading to obscene pictures and videos exposed to the public. The most embarrassing scenario was when a dating site called FriendFinder was hacked. 3.5 million people’s sexual preferences and secrets were exposed. The exposed details from the site were of personal nature including email addresses, usernames, birthdays and zip codes in addition to sexual preferences.