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What could hackers do with data on every federal employee?

A government worker union says that the cyberattack on U.S. employee records was far worse than the Obama administration initially indicated. The hackers allegedly stole the Social Security numbers and other personal data of every federal worker, according to the president of American Federal Government employees. Judy Woodruff learns more from Ken Dilanian of the Associated Press.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    A government worker union today alleged the cyber-attack on U.S. employee records was far worse than the Obama administration initially indicated.

    In a letter to the Office of Personnel Management, the president of the American Federal Government Employees said the hackers stole the Social Security numbers and other personal data of every federal worker.

    For the latest, we turn to Associated Press intelligence reporter Ken Dilanian.

    So, Ken Dilanian, how much worse is this than what's been previously acknowledged?

  • KEN DILANIAN, Associated Press:

    Yes.

    Well, Judy, we knew this was a serious breach of very sensitive information, but the letter today released by the union lays out with a lot more specificity than the Obama administration had what types of information was stolen and how comprehensive it was.

    The union is saying flatly, look, all the information of everyone in this compromised database, they believe, were taken. And there's about 780 categories of information in this database, from military records, dates of birth, retirement dates, previous addresses, all sorts of very personal information on millions of federal and retired federal employees that this union is saying they believe were taken.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, as I understand, it's all federal employees, civilian employees and all former employees as well.

  • KEN DILANIAN:

    Right, and so that wouldn't include military people and it doesn't include certainly intelligence agency people, but it includes almost everyone else.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now, we know — I asked the White House press secretary a few minutes ago about this. He said they're not able to confirm it, but the government employees union, they must be basing this on information they have.

  • KEN DILANIAN:

    Right. Well, they're basing it on their assessment of the sketchy information they're being told by the Office of Personnel Management, which is releasing very little information, and sort of hedging and saying, well, Social Security numbers could be a part of the information that was stolen.

    I mean, they have said, look, personnel information was hacked and four million people were affected, but they haven't said exactly what was taken, and they're citing security reasons and the pending criminal investigation.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And just very quickly, what do they think could be done with this?

  • KEN DILANIAN:

    Well, if in fact it's hackers based in China, as Senator Harry Reid said on the Senate floor today, the worry is that it's an espionage attack and that this information will be used to further compromise — to use against employees to compromise government databases through spear-phishing attacks.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Ken Dilanian with the Associated Press, we thank you.

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