Summary of Inside the Cyberattack That Shocked the US Government

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After the recent "ransomware" cyberattack that took place on May 12, 2017, you may be more than a little concerned about the Internet and security. Institutions like the CIA, the FBI or the NSA may seem like the most probable targets of international hackers; the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – essentially the American government’s human resources department – probably doesn’t spring to mind. Brendan I. Koerner, a contributing editor for Wired, carefully details the devastating cybersecurity breach the OPM experienced in April 2015. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone concerned about cybersecurity breaches and their implications for the future.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How an engineer at the US Office of Personnel Management discovered that someone had hacked the agency,
  • What type of information the hackers accessed and
  • What the US government has done to prevent future cyberattacks.

About the Author

Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor to Wired.



At first glance, the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may not seem like a likely target for hackers. But, when you realize that the OPM has approximately 18 million copies of the innocuous-sounding document Standard Form 86 on file, the situation makes a little more sense. Standard Form 86 is “a 127-page questionnaire for federal security clearance that includes probing questions about an applicant’s personal finances, past substance abuse and psychiatric care.” The agency has information about lie-detector test answers and “risky sexual behavior.” The OPM is essentially the US government’s human resources department, and even people with the “most secretive jobs” have to fill in applications.

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