Could the Recent Government Data Hack Affect You?

David Lindsey, Attorney at Law

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently revealed criminal hackers stole personal information from more than 20 million people, making it possibly the most significant data hack in history. Experts believe the fallout from the hack could compromise US intelligence and affect individual victims for years to come. Many believe China was responsible for the hack.

OPM’s database was mostly unencrypted and monitored by a security team with barely any IT experience, creating an ideal opportunity for hackers. Many believe the breach demonstrates how easy it is becoming for US adversaries to overcome current security capabilities and they believe this hack could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Anyone with Security Clearance or Who Underwent a Background Check is at Risk

Victims include every person who applied for government security clearance in the last 15 years. This means any person who underwent a background check through OPM since the turn of the millennium is impacted and likely had his or her Social Security number stolen, as well as any information revealed on the SF86 form, which is a 120 page document examining an applicant’s financial records, arrests, foreign travel and contacts, psychological and emotional health, and struggles with alcoholism or drug use, as well as information about his or her family relations.

Some believe this information could be used for blackmail or to recruit intelligence officers, as well as lower level crime like identity theft. Others believe it is unlikely anyone at risk for blackmail would have been given security clearance, so there is minimal security risk to the country.

There is also the chance the information could be sold on the black market. On an individual level, this hack could be detrimental for decades, wreaking havoc and causing misery for millions of Americans.

At least two federal employee unions have filed lawsuits claiming OPM’s failure to protect personal information violated the constitutional rights of members. Despite the efforts to place blame, there is little any union can do at this point to reverse the damage that has occurred.

What Does the OPM Hack Mean for the Average Person?

Obviously, if you have undergone a government background check since 2000, you could be a victim now or in the future. However, there is another group of people that could experience repercussions from the hack – those accused of Internet crimes.

What the hack has proven is that nothing is secure. Identity theft is on the rise and someone could easily accuse you of participating in ID theft behavior even if you intended to do nothing wrong. Even if you did nothing, just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time online could make you vulnerable to accusations.

Lawmakers are struggling to stay one step ahead of criminals and they will be looking to make an example out of anyone they can – even if that person did not commit a crime. Everyone is confused about data breaches and computer crimes and it would be easy for a prosecuting attorney to twist details of an event and make you look guilty. If you are accused of identity theft or any type of computer crime, you need the support of an attorney who understands.

To learn more or to speak to someone about accusations against you related to identity theft or computer crimes, contact David Lindsey to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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