US government hack stole fingerprints of 5.6 million federal employees

Office of Personnel Management hack, which US believes China is responsible for, originally thought to have compromised prints of only 1.1 million workers

The number of people applying for or receiving security clearances whose fingerprint images were stolen in one of the worst government data breaches is now believed to be 5.6 million, not 1.1 million as first thought, the Office of Personnel Management announced on Wednesday.

The agency was the victim of what the US believes was a Chinese espionage operation that affected an estimated 21.5 million current and former federal employees or job applicants. The theft could give Chinese intelligence a huge leg up in recruiting informants inside the US government, experts believe. It also could help the Chinese identify US spies abroad, according to American officials.

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