Actually, those Chinese hackers put 20 million Americans at risk

2015 chinese cyber attacks

The estimated 4 million US citizens whose information was seized by Chinese hackers in this past April's large-scale cyber attack could actually be closer to 20 million.

However, reports are surfacing that the number affected by the hack on the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) could even be closer to 25 million. This larger figure, although still just an estimation that hasn't yet been confirmed by the OPM, could dramatically increase the damages the attack might have caused.

OPM detailed the two-part attack after it occurred earlier this year. Hackers targeted and seized the full name, birth date, home address and Social Security Number (SSN) of 4.2 million current and former federal government employees. The second phase of the theft went after background investigations of federal government employees, as well as the classified security clearances of government officials.

How does this affect you?

Some stats provided by OPM state that the attack claimed the SSNs of approximately 1.8 million "non-applicant" citizens who weren't part of a background investigation, but are "primarily spouses or cohabitants of applicants." At the time of writing, the estimated number of hacked non-applicants hasn't increased, but it very well could.

These statistics give plenty of reasons to worry if you're a government official or if you live with one or even know one, but losing this information isn't what has the government most upset.

ABC stated that, "US intelligence and law enforcement officials are particularly concerned over the theft of forms known as SF-86s that current and prospective federal workers, including certain military personnel, and even contractors submit for security clearances."

Speaking to Business Insider, Michael Borohovski, CEO of Tinfoil Security, stated that this lengthy, classified form is "one of the most extensive national security questionnaires that exists" and that the attack, which resulted in the theft of these forms could be "the worst breach of personally identifying information ever."

We'll be on the lookout for any word from the OPM in the coming days regarding an updated statement on the attacks.

Via Business Insider

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.