FBI director: OPM breach is ‘enormous,’ affects more than federal workers

WASHINGTON — FBI director James Comey says more information should be released soon on the recent hack attack on the Office of Personnel Management, which he calls an “enormous breach.”

Comey says adversaries may have accessed decades of personal and sensitive information on federal employees, as well as anyone noted in their background checks, such as spouses, siblings, children and references.

“So the numbers quickly grow far beyond the number of federal employees, which is millions over the last 20 years. And so it is a very, very big number. It is a huge deal,” Comey told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee while testifying Wednesday.

Comey’s statements came after Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, expressed frustration on behalf of federal workers looking for information.

“We’re literally months into this now and continue to get a series of different answers in terms of numbers. I’ve been very disappointed by OPM’s reaction post-breach,” Warner said.

Comey says the Obama administration intends to share more details on the investigation soon: “a public and more detailed accounting of what we think was lost,” he says.

The government has initiated three courses of action responding to the hack.

Federal News Radio Managing Editor Tom Temin says OPM has shut down the electronic background system; it’s now being done by paper. The Federal Chief Information ordered agencies to do a 30-day “cyber sprint” to better secure agency networks and data.

And Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has said that a new intrusion-detection system called Einstein 3A will be available to every federal agency by the end of the year.

“With the implication, ‘You’d better have it installed’,” Temin says.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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