By Mark Hensch - 07/11/15 05:26 PM EDT
Army National Guard struck by data breach
The Army National Guard is alerting its current and former members that a data breach may have exposed their private information.
Officials on Friday said the incident is unrelated to the massive hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that impacted more than 22 million people’s sensitive details.
“All current and former Army National Guard members since 2004 could be affected by this breach because files containing personal information was inadvertently transferred to a non-DoD-accredited data center by a contract employee,” said Maj. Earl Brown, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau.
Brown said the breach may have unearthed members’ names, full Social Security addresses, dates of birth and home addresses.
“The National Guard Bureau takes the control of personal information very seriously,” he said.
“After investigating the circumstances of these actions, and the information that was transferred, the Guard has determined, out of an abundance of caution, to inform current and past Guard personnel that their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was among the files that were transferred,” Brown added.
Brown also reassured National Guard personnel there is little evidence the incident has criminal connotations.
“The issue was identified and promptly reported, and we believe the data will be used lawfully,” he said.
“This was not a hacking incident, in which the intent was to use data for financial gain,” Brown added.
“Nonetheless, the Guard believes that individuals potentially affected need to know about the breach and what actions they can take to protect themselves from potential identity theft.”
The National Guard Bureau has set up a website and a call center for personnel worrying about their information following the breach.
The web page lets users check their credit reports, gives tips for preventing identity theft and allows reports on any alleged fraudulent activity. The call center offers information on preventing and dealing with possible identity theft.
The embattled director of the OPM resigned Friday amid public outrage over the size and scale of the reported hack of the agency.
Katherine Archuleta stepped down a day after announcing that multiple breaches had compromised the integrity of her agency’s data protections.
The information has remarkable espionage value, given it is largely concerned with federal personnel.
Officials have called China the “leading suspect” in the digital assault.
The stolen data could figure in attempts at intimidating officials, launching targeted cyberattacks and even recruiting informants.