WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says the fingerprints of 5.6 million people who applied for or received a federal security clearance were stolen — not 1.1 million as first believed.
That sobering news comes from the Office of Personnel Management, the federal personnel agency whose data was hacked in what officials believe was a Chinese espionage operation.
An estimated 21.5 million current and former federal employees or job applicants were affected in a data theft that experts say will give Chinese intelligence a huge leg up in recruiting informants. It could also help the Chinese catch U.S. spies.
The agency says the ability of an U.S. adversary to misuse fingerprint data is limited. But for intelligence operatives, the notion that the Chinese have their fingerprints is a nightmare.