Millions of Stolen Fingerprints Could Help Recruit, ID Spies

4.5M more fingerprints stolen in hack than previously thought
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2015 2:58 PM CDT
Millions of Stolen Fingerprints Could Help Recruit, ID Spies

It turns out last year's massive government data breach is even worse than previously thought. Hackers stole the fingerprint images of 5.6 million applying for or receiving security clearances—4.5 million more than reported earlier, the government announced today. The Office of Personnel Management believes the Chinese were behind the espionage operation, which could help them recruit informants inside the US government and identify US spies. However no one's publicly blaming China. Intelligence officials say the fingerprint images are a fair target, one they wouldn't hesitate to pursue if given the chance. But that doesn't mean intelligence agencies wouldn't prefer the Chinese not have them.

Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of announcing the millions of additional stolen fingerprints while everyone is distracted by the pope's visit, the AP reports. "Today's blatant news dump is the clearest sign yet that the administration still acts like the OPM hack is a PR crisis instead of a national security threat," one Republican senator says. A spokesperson for the agency responds they only learned of the additional stolen fingerprints "very recently" while working with the Department of Defense. The agency's director lost her job following the hack, which exposed the problems with current federal cybersecurity. (More cybersecurity stories.)

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