The report The OPM Data Breach: How the Government Jeopardized Our National Security for More than a Generation provides an extensive summary of how the breach occurred, how the OPM failed to prevent it, the data that was compromised and its potential ramifications.
The security professionals at VIPRE have the following advice for government employees and anyone affected by the breach:
- Recognize the Severity of the OPM Data Breach – The OPM breach is not just unprecedented in the number of government employee records that were compromised. It's also notable for the wealth of personal data that was exposed. The data breach resulted in the exfiltration of the personnel files for 4.2 million former and current government employees, and the security background investigation material for 21.5 million individuals. Going beyond basic personally identifiable information like social security numbers, dates of birth and driver's license numbers, the breach also exposed the in-depth findings of background checks for security clearances, including family member names and addresses, employment and travel histories, and more.
- Understand Why the Data is Valuable – While the identities and ultimate objectives of the hackers have not been made explicitly clear, this was a persistent, sophisticated data breach that has been linked to cybercrime organizations with ties to foreign governments. This data is a treasure trove not only for social engineering tactics to gain access to PCs, and corporate and government networks, but it could also be leveraged for potential blackmail of government employees, officials and contractors. The involvement of a nation state implies a more long-term, strategic goal rather than a large cyber-heist focused on stealing identities and passwords for online accounts.
- Don't Grow Complacent – While the OPM data breach was first publicly disclosed more than year ago, current and former government employees should not grow complacent and assume they are not a target. Threats may strike when their guard is down and could happen today, tomorrow or years from now.
- How You May be Attacked – Government employees should be mindful of how stolen data could be used against them. For example, phishing emails designed to look like they are coming from a trusted source and that contain accurate personal data could easily trick users into clicking malicious links or opening infected attachments. This is a common tactic for gaining access to PCs to spread Trojans, ransomware and other threats. Moreover, advise friends and colleagues in social networks and elsewhere to be mindful of communications from you that seem out of the ordinary, as cybercriminals may be using your identity to compromise others.
- Be Proactive and Protect Yourself – Take charge of your own security. Credit monitoring and identity theft protection services alone will not be enough. Do everything you can to protect yourself from online threats by deploying industry leading antivirus software.
Special Savings and Protection for Government Employees
VIPRE Internet Security Pro consistently receives the highest ratings possible form the world's leading antivirus testing authorities. Government employees and anyone else impacted by the breach can purchase VIPRE Internet Security Pro at 50% off – a savings of nearly $30 to protect 1 PC for 1 year – at www.VIPREantivirus.com/OPMbreach.
VIPRE is the trusted antivirus and endpoint security protection for millions of home users, and tens of thousands of small and medium businesses. Its malware protection consistently earns the highest ratings possible from the world's leading independent authorities on antivirus performance. Easy to install and simple to use, VIPRE enables customers to quickly protect their data from more than 350,000 new online threats every day, including viruses, spyware, Trojans, ransomware, bad websites, harmful email and more. All VIPRE customers receive free U.S.-based technical support. To learn more, visit www.VIPREAntivirus.com and try it free for 30 days.
VIPRE is a product of ThreatTrack Security, Inc., a cybersecurity solutions developer backed by Insight Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners. Learn more at www.ThreatTrack.com.
Copyright © 2016 ThreatTrack Security, Inc. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To the best of our knowledge, all details were correct at the time of publishing; this information is subject to change without notice.
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