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Federal data breach may be ‘tip of the iceberg’

Update: 5:57 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th) issued the following statement in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management's announcement that last month's cyber attack affected 21.5 million people's personal information.

“Today’s revelations of over 21 million individuals’ personal information such as Social Security numbers, fingerprints, and other personal information being hacked is an alarming failure of the top management at OPM. The cyberattack and OPM’s response to the breach have been inadequate. There is clearly a lack of confidence in OPM’s leadership and the President needs to act and put the appropriate and aggressive leadership in place to battle these cyberattacks that have been launched against our citizens and will continue to be a reality in the future. Our federal employees and contractors and their families deserve to have their sensitive information protected.”

Original Story: 12:09 p.m.

The recent data breaches at the federal Office of Personnel Management may simply be the “tip of the iceberg,” according to a House committee that heard witness testimony Wednesday.

Witnesses told lawmakers the OPM ignored guidance and failed to prioritize computer network security.

The cyberhack announced in June affected between 20 and 25 million current and former federal workers and at least one federal lawmaker, Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th). Comstock, who worked for the federal government before being elected to Congress, received a notification last month alerting her that her personal information may have been breached. Additionally, she received a letter from the IRS saying her tax information may also have been compromised.

The first-term congresswoman, who represents Loudoun County and thousands of federal workers, is chair of the Research and Technology Subcommittee for the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“We continue to have a lot of unanswered questions,” a highly critical Comstock told the Times-Mirror this morning. “ … We don't have the leadership at OPM that is in any way capable of handling this.”

Chinese hackers are widely suspected as the culprits for the breach, which included personnel information, background checks and sensitive government data.

Comstock said the U.S. Needs to be more aggressive and go “on offense” when it comes to dealing with cyber threats. Cyber warfare, she said, is something “we're going to be living with for the rest of our lifetime.”

The number of cybersecurity incidents reported by federal agencies has increased more than 1,000 percent in the last eight years, according to the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

"President Barack Obama ought to be far more steamed about the break-ins than he appears," the Washington Post noted in an editorial Monday. "The OPM director, Katherine Archuleta, knew as well as anyone how sensitive the data was, yet the door to her agency was apparently left ajar."

Wednesday's witnesses included Michael R. Esser, the assistant inspector for general audits at OPM; David Snell, the director of Federal Benefits Service Department for the National Active and Retired Federal Employee Association; Charles Romine, the director of Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Gregory Wilshusen, director of information security issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The committee hearing came the same day as two curious and high-profile incidents relating "computer glitches." United Airlines flights across the nation were grounded Wednesday for two hours due to a glitch, while the New York Stock Exchange shut down trading for several hours because of a technical issue. National security officials say there's no indication the two incidents were sparked by a cyber attack.


This happened 10 months ago and the sky has not fallen. Much ado about nothing. No one is interested in Comstock and she needs to stay in the limelight in order to defeat the lackluster opponents the democrats put up. The guy I want on my side is the whistleblower who outed Comstock for not reporting 85 grand in income.

A money grab by Comstock and friends.

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