U.S. officials had to update their reports on how many million people were involved in the data hacking at the U.S. government’s personnel management agency. Authorities still looks at China as their number one suspect.

Reports from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) show that 21.5 million people have had some sort of data stolen – ranging from Social Security numbers to a whole deal of sensitive information used in background checks for security clearances – data that was stored in the agency’s computer networks.

These numbers add on top of the estimated 4.2 million people from the federal department who had their data stolen in a separate but related cyberattack incident. Because a lot of people were involved in both hacks, the final number rises to 22.1 million people, which is almost 7 percent of the entire U.S. population.

Due to its scale and the high sensitivity of the stolen information, this data breach is considered to have done the most damage on record.

Around 19.7 million of the people affected are those who applied for security clearances at some point – federal employees and contractors – while the remaining 1.8 million who haven’t applied, but still undergone background checks in their role of spouses or long-time partners of applicants.

Since the attack, lawmakers have been demanding that Katherine Archuleta, director of OPM, should be demitted, as President Barack Obama needs better leadership at the head of the agency, as well as punish the incompetence in his administration.

In spite of the lawmaker’s distrust in the current OPM team, Archuleta still seems to hold the favor of the White House. Neither Archuleta nor Donna Seymour, OPM leading information officer, have commented on whether or not they would resign.

After the United States has called China to be the suspect in the massive data breach, the China’s Foreign Ministry denied any involvement and said claims were “absurd logic.” White House spokespersons have been avoiding giving a clear answer on the matter of attributing this incident to anyone in particular, as the investigation is still ongoing.

OPM revealed that hacked personal identification data included so much more than just Social Security numbers; the critical information involves details about federal workers’ private lives, such as place of residence and academic history, information about immediate family; and financial, health, and criminal records. More than 1.1 million fingerprints were also stolen in the hacking incident, according to the agency.

Millions of Americans have been alarmed ever since the attack was revealed last month. Lawmakers emphasized the need for the agency to assume partial responsibility for it, since they have obviously failed to adequately protect this sensitive data.
Image Source: International Business Times