After a cyber attack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) left millions of Government Employees information vulnerable to thieves, the OPM has shut down access to the e-QIP background check pending the ongoing investigation due to a potential failure in the system’s security measures. Shutting down the system has created an odd situation for employers seeking to hire, and employees seeking work, by placing them in a position where neither can verify the background of the employee.
Office of Personnel Management’s position on the present state of affairs
While the office is continuing to investigate the OPM cyber attack which left Government employees vulnerable many are still speculating exactly how many have had the privacy of their information compromised by the intrusion into the Government databases.
Earliest reports from OPM on June 4, 2015 state that around four million may have had their data compromised, and urges Government employees to take measures to ensure that they will not become victims of the OPM cyber attack. Director of OPM, Katherine Aculet, is under a large amount of scrutiny for the department’s breach and issued a message stating, “Protecting our Federal employee data from malicious cyber incidents is of the highest priority at OPM. We take very seriously our responsibility to secure the information stored in our systems, and in coordination with our agency partners, our experienced team is constantly identifying opportunities to further protect the data with which we are entrusted.”
Tough Decision to shut down the e-QIP background check system
This is the largest scale attack on the OPM since its formation on January 1st, 1979, and in these difficult times, difficult decisions had to be made. Already under fire for the OPM cyber attack which began in April, Achulet made the difficult decision on Monday the shut down the background checking system during an in-depth review of what could have allowed hackers to enter into the databases.
The system is expected to stay down for at least 4-6 weeks while investigations continue, and Achulet had this to say about shutting down the program, “The security of OPM’s networks remains my top priority as we continue the work outlined in my IT Strategic Plan, including the continuing implementation of modern security controls. This proactive, temporary suspension of the e-QIP system will ensure our network is as secure as possible for the sensitive data with which OPM is entrusted.”
While the future of the Government employees who have had their information compromised is uncertain, for the time being OPM is doing everything possible to ensure that as few employees as possible become victims. In this case, that means shutting down a major part of their department altogether pending further investigation.