This past week, the White House had some disturbing news for Americans: at least 4 million former and current government workers had their personal data exposed in an IT data breach that, according to recent investigations, has been occurring since late 2014 (it was not discovered until this April).
Hackers weren’t just looking for information about employees’ favorite colors or food preferences, naturally; the compromised data includes personal information like social security numbers, which can be used for a wide variety of identity theft operations. Identity theft is a time consuming and costly issue for individuals, businesses, and local governments alike, affecting almost 10 million Americans each year.
It’s embarrassing for the government to have to admit that it couldn’t keep its own employee information safe. Adam B. Schiff, senior Democrat of the U.S. Intelligence Committee, called the breach “shocking, because Americans may expect that federal computer networks are maintained with state of the art defenses.”
The information in question was held by the Office of Personal Management, and most officials seem to agree that the hack definitely came from China. Whether the hackers were civilians or state-authorized in their work is not yet clear. The U.S. government is offering all potentially affected former and current employees a year and a half of free credit monitoring, and says that specialists are currently working to uncover the exact depths of the breach.
While small businesses may not have to worry about having the information of millions of people exposed during a breach, it pays to think ahead. Modern security systems are necessary for preventing both internal and external breaches that can not only impact employees, but could potentially impact revenue if such IT business hacks end up eroding consumer confidence.
In addition to having adequate security, any organization, whether it’s a corporation or a government entity, should have a disaster recovery plan on hand. A disaster recovery plan can help ensure an uninterruptible power supply, as well as the ability to continue with daily operations despite what may be happening in the background.