NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The massive hack of U.S. government computers could put the entire federal workforce, including tens of thousands in the Tri-State area, at risk.
Here’s how bad the security breach is: thousands of FBI agents who work in our area were told Thursday night that their personal information may have been compromised, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
They were offered credit monitoring and identity theft insurance. Federal officials said they are taking no chances.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest was tight-lipped about one of the largest security breaches ever to hit the federal government. Some say 4 million federal employees could be the subject of identity theft — from intelligence and law enforcement agents to federal parks workers, like those at the Statue of Liberty.
Although Chinese hackers are suspected, the government is trying to keep a tight lid on the exact details, Kramer reported.
“There is risk associated with making public what exactly our investigators have learned, and the reason for that is that we’re dealing with a persistent adversary, and in some cases the less they know about what we know about what they did, the better,” Earnest said.
Department of Homeland Security officials said that data from the Office of Personnel Management, which conducts more than 90 percent of federal background checks, and the Department of the Interior had been compromised.
“The FBI is conducting an investigation to identify how any why this occurred,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
One concern is that the information could be used for espionage, Kramer reported.
“It’s more cyber espionage than cybercrime,” said Dr. Jane LeClair of the National Cybersecurity Institute.
LeClair said the attack could be useful for spies.
“It sounds a bit fantastic, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s really within the realms of what a nation state would do versus a cybercriminal group,” LeClair said.
“I wouldn’t put anything past the Chinese,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “They are just completely focused on surpassing the United States in every way and in the past they have shown they are willing to do almost anything to get there.”
The concern is so great that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked if city information is secure from hackers.
“We have some very strong protections in place and we work on that every single day, literally,” the mayor said.
The Department of Homeland Security has a cyber-intrusion detection system called “Einstein,” and it is unclear why it didn’t detect the breach until after so many records were stolen, Kramer reported.
Earnest said “Einstein” was due for an upgrade, which is scheduled for completion in 2018. It’s now being accelerated, Kramer reported.