21.5 million Americans affected by background check breach - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

21.5 million Americans affected by background check breach

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(NBC News) - The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced on Thursday that sensitive information including Social Security numbers for 21.5 million people was among the data lost in a breach of its background investigation database.

An investigation into this and a separate breach -- that one involving personnel information on 4.2 million people -- concluded that the two were "separate but related," OPM said.

The new numbers expanding the scope of the hack come one day after FBI Director James Comey called the hack an "enormous breach" to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, saying "millions and millions" of government records were stolen, including his own.

The investigation into the breaches concluded that the second breach, which targeted background investigation records kept by OPM, included Social Security numbers, information on family members and other contacts, as well as health and criminal records.

The breaches have been the subject of numerous hearings on Capitol Hill since they first came to light, with OPM Director Katherine Archuleta facing tough questions from lawmakers who have called for her dismissal.

"Since at least 2007, OPM leadership has been on notice about the vulnerabilities to its network and cybersecurity policies and practices," House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said in a statement. "Director Archuleta and Ms. Seymour consciously ignored the warnings and failed to correct these weaknesses. Their negligence has now put the personal and sensitive information of 21.5 million Americans into the hands of our adversaries."

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