Just when you thought the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack was over and done with, we find out it was even worse. For awhile, we were learning terrible new things almost every week!
Now we're learning that the biometric data of 5.6 million federal employees were stolen along with mountain of Social Security numbers, addresses and lists of relatives. Many of the victims have high-ranking secret clearances, too.
Even though the federal government won't say exactly whose fingerprints were breached, they did acknowledge the fact that over 5 million people are at risk of identity theft and hacking for the rest of their lives.
"OPM and [the Department of Defense] identified archived records containing additional fingerprint data not previously analyzed. Of the 21.5 million individuals whose Social Security Numbers and other sensitive information were impacted by the breach, the subset of individuals whose fingerprints have been stolen has increased from a total of approximately 1.1 million to approximately 5.6 million," a posting on the OPM official website said.
Technical information like addresses, Social Security numbers and pass codes can all be changed quickly if need be. But fingerprints last forever and there is no way to change them. So the victims of this hack will always have to keep their heads over their shoulders and be prepared for a major identity theft case.
Hackers can store this fingerprint data for years to come and use it as technology develops. Say there's a new door lock that only requires your fingerprint. If a hacker has that ready to exploit, they could easily enter your home remotely.
It's only a matter of time until we use our fingerprints for everything, and the Chinese hackers behind the OPM breach know that. They're waiting patiently for the perfect time to strike, and when they do it's going to be ugly.
If you're concerned that your technical information and fingerprints might be at risk, don't worry. The OPM sent out letter to all suspected victims that included the information regarding their free credit monitoring program.
And if you haven't received a letter yet, you're probably in good shape.