Feds Award $133M for ID Theft Protection

     WASHINGTON, D.C. (CN) – The federal government will pay $133 million to help screen more than 21 million individuals’ personal information for identity theft following one of the largest data breaches ever, it announced Tuesday.
     The U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Department of Defense awarded a contract to Identity Theft Guard Solutions, which does business as ID Experts. The Portland, Ore. company will be tasked with checking Social Security numbers and credit scores, as well as providing identity theft insurance and restoration services for three years.
     The cyberattack, which was discovered by OPM in June, affected anybody who had been subject to a government background check since 2000, as well as nearly two million non-applicants, such as spouses.
     Government officials have stated that U.S. undercover spies’ identities had been compromised as a result of the attack, which was thought to be carried out by Chinese hackers. China has denied association with the cyberattack.
     The data breach, which was the second in a few months against OPM, led to the resignation of Katherine Archuleta from her position as OPM director. Several class action lawsuits have been filed against OPM on behalf of the 21.5 million affected federal employees, including one by the American Federation of Government Employees seeking $1 billion in damages.
     OPM screens potential federal employees, and has come under fire for its allegedly loose data security procedures. A 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office listed the agency as a “high risk” government entity when it came to data breaches. OPM had suffered two major cyberattacks this year so far.
     “As someone whose own information was stolen, I completely understand the concern and frustration people are feeling,” said OPM acting director Beth Cobert in a statement yesterday. Cobert has stated that there have been no signs any of the data has been used so far.
     In July, Cobert reportedly sent an email to other federal agencies stating the OPM would raise its security clearance service fees to pay for the identity theft protection services.
     The Defense Department will directly notify impacted individuals later this month by mail, according to a government press release.

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