US Military and Intelligence Data ‘Accessed’ in New Hack


Hackers have gained access to sensitive data on the US intelligence and military personnel and appear to once again have connections with China, according to US officials.  The details follow the information regarding a major hack were disclosed last week and officials have released details of a second hack.


There are fears that the attack could leave security personnel or their families open to blackmail.  The agency involved, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is yet to speak about the report but the official who spoke anonymously to the Associated Press (AP) believed attackers have targeted a form submitted by personnel.  This form is completed by intelligence and military personnel to gain their security clearances.

These documents include personal information that includes everything from a person’s eye colour to their financial history, past substance abuse and their contact details.  There is even information on the form regarding the details of their relatives and even their friends.


The 127 page vetting document is called the Standard Form 86 and is believed to have been the one that hackers accessed.  Among the questions asked on the form are:

  • In the past 7 years, have you defaulted on any loans?
  • Have you ever voluntarily sought counselling or treatment as a result of your use of alcohol?
  • In the past 7 years, have you illegally used any drugs or controlled substances?

A White House statement said that investigators had a ‘high degree’ of confidence that the background information of government employees had been accessed by someone.  One former US counterintelligence official said that the data accessed was a ‘gold mine’ for hackers.

It has also emerged that the breach of personal data of government workers that was announced to the press last week may actually be far larger than was previously reported.  Initial estimates said that the number of people who had been potentially affected at around four million but officials working on the investigation told AP that there could be as many as 14 million people’s information involved.

Previous hacks

These are just the latest in a series of hacks on the US government.  In November 2014, a hack compromised files belonging to 25,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security as well as information on thousands of other federal workers.

In March the same year, hacker breached the OPM networks, targeting the staff with security clearance but the hack was stopped before any data was stolen.  The attempt was traced to China.

As far back as 2006, hackers believed to be backed in China tried to breach the sensitive bureau of the US Department of Commerce, resulting in hundreds of workstations being replaced.


The US said that the hackers behind both the recent attacks are also believed to be based in China but Beijing retaliated by calling the claims ‘irresponsible’.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced new measures to further beef up the cyber security in use across the country.  The statement from the White House said that the recent events underscore the need to accelerate the cyber strategy while confronting ‘aggressive, persistent malicious actors that continue to target our cyber infrastructures.’


Related posts: