Feds always thought hack would affect more than 4 million

An internal government memo suggests federal officials always believed the scale of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack was must larger than first described.

The day the breach was revealed, officials said they believed it had affected 4.2 million federal workers.

That same day, however, an internal memo circulated estimating the breach may ultimately encompass 18 million people.

That prediction, made on June 4, was not made public because it was based on “very raw numbers,” an unnamed source told ABC News, which first reported the memo. Investigators are still performing “many forensic steps” to determine whether the 18 million estimate is correct, the source said.

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OPM officials have still not acknowledged publicly that the breach encompasses more than 4.2 million people. They have, however, revealed a second breach that compromised millions of security clearance background checks for military and intelligence community personnel.

A slow leak of details have continued to shed light on the true nature of the breach. It’s now known that hackers were in the OPM systems for a full year before being discovered, stealing information not just on federal workers, but on government contractors, prospective government employees, and friends, family and roommates named in background checks.

“We’re still trying to ascertain exactly which individuals were impacted and which records” were taken, the source close to the investigation told ABC News.

Embattled OPM Director Katherine Archuleta will face three congressional panels this week, where she’s expected to be grilled about the most recent estimates.