It was already being described as the worst hack of the U.S. government in history. And it just got much worse.
A senior U.S. official has confirmed that foreign hackers compromised the intimate personal details of an untold number of government workers. Likely included in the hackers’ haul: information about workers’ sexual partners, drug and alcohol abuse, debts, gambling compulsions, marital troubles, and any criminal activity.
Those details, which are now presumed to be in the hands of Chinese spies, are found in the so-called “adjudication information” that U.S. investigators compile on government employees and contractors who are applying for security clearances. The exposure suggests that the massive computer breach at the Office of Personnel Management is more significant and potentially damaging to national security than officials have previously said.
Three former U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the adjudication information would effectively provide dossiers on current and former government employees, as well as contractors. It gives foreign intelligence agencies a roadmap for finding people with access to the government’s most highly classified secrets.
Obama administration officials had previously acknowledged the breach of information that applicants voluntarily disclose on a routine questionnaire, called Standard Form 86, but the theft of the more detailed and wide-ranging adjudication information appears to have gone overlooked.
“Whoever compromised the adjudication information is going to have clear knowledge, beyond what’s in the SF86, about who the best targets for espionage are in the United States,”Michael Adams, a computer security expert who served more than two decades in the U.S. Special Operations Command, told The Daily Beast. “This is the most successful cyber attack in the history of the United States,” owing to the amount and quality of the information that was stolen, Adams said.