The hackers who broke into the systems of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the US government agency that handles all government employees’ data, might have also got their hands on data belonging to non-government employees, including contractors and journalists.
On Monday, The Washington Post revealed that OPM has started notifying journalists who “are accredited by federal agencies” that hackers stole their personal data too, including social security numbers.
Journalists who cover government agencies, and need access to buildings such as the White House, need to go through a background check and give out personal data to OPM. The agency, however, doesn’t seem to be sure how many journalists and non-government employees are among the victims.
“Many individuals, including reporters who need long-term access to federal buildings, may undergo a routine background check in order to obtain valid credentials,” OPM spokesman Sam Schumach told The Washington Post. “It’s entirely possible that those journalists who have a Social Security number in the system were in this group.”