WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force maintains its commitment to protect personal information from cyber threats by continuing efforts with the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management to assist those impacted by the recent cyber incident involving federal background investigation data.
OPM and an interagency response team, including investigators from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, concluded that sensitive information, to include Social Security numbers, was stolen from background investigations of 21.5 million individuals.
“We sincerely regret this has happened and that so many people were impacted by having their key information at risk,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “Cybersecurity and protecting personal information of our personnel will always be a top priority for the Air Force. We will continue to support the DOD and OPM to ensure our personnel are protected.”
While background investigation records do contain some information regarding mental health and financial history provided by applicants and people contacted during the background investigation, there is no evidence that health, financial, payroll or retirement records of federal personnel or those who have applied for a federal job were impacted by this incident, for example — annuity rolls, retirement records, USAJobs.gov and Employee Express.
OPM will offer affected individuals credit monitoring services and identity theft insurance. This comprehensive, three-year membership includes credit report access, credit monitoring, identity theft insurance and recovery services, and is available immediately at no cost to affected individuals identified by OPM.
In addition to assisting OPM and DOD, the Air Force remains committed to protecting its own information systems from attack. The Air Force privacy and information assurance officers work directly with program managers or system owners to ensure those systems which contain personal identifiable information have the proper security controls in place to prevent unauthorized access.
There are tools and techniques everyone can and should use to protect information in cyberspace.
“I want to stress again that our total force and their families need to be informed on how adversaries attempt to gain access to our information,” said Lt. Gen. William J. Bender, the information dominance chief and chief information officer for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. “More importantly we must be vigilant and act to deter them: guard information by practicing good OPSEC (operations security), follow basic computer security practices and alert the proper security offices of anything suspicious.”
The Air Force has created a toolkit of information for cybersecurity and safety at www.af.mil/cybersecurity.aspx. Additional information from OPM is available at https://www.opm.gov/cybersecurity/. This site contains details about what information was breached and what remedial actions and assistance will be made available.