Office of Personnel Management webpage.

Office of Personnel Management webpage. (Stars and Stripes)

The Office of Personnel Management plans to soon notify federal employees whose personal information was hacked in a massive data breach that was discovered earlier this month.

The hackers, who unnamed U.S. officials say have ties to the Chinese government, appear to have breached the computer system run by OPM, with the personal information of up to 14 million government and military employees possibly compromised, according to The Associated Press.

Plans to notify affected federal workers were outlined in an email sent to some Department of Defense workers in Japan this week.

“In the coming weeks [OPM] will be sending notification to individuals whose [personal information] was potentially compromised in this incident,” the message said.

The notification — sent by email or surface post — will include information about credit monitoring and identity theft protection services being provided to employees affected by the data breach, the message said.

Officials appear to be concerned that even the notification process could be sabotaged. The message warns employees who receive emails telling them that their data has been breached to carefully check the sender’s address and subject line, make sure nobody else is copied and that ensure there are no attachments or requests for additional personal information.

“Regardless of whether or not you receive this notification, employees should take extra care to ensure that they are following recommended cyber and personal security procedures,” the message said.

Senior Airman Robert Brown, eating lunch at the Base Exchange food court on Yokota Air Base on Friday, said he hadn’t heard about the data leak but that he had completed cyber awareness training. Hacking will likely be even more of a problem in the future, he said.

“Our online (cyber awareness) training definitely helps but it’s not fully effective,” he said.

Fenton Fitzgerald, a civilian facility director at Yokota, said he received an email telling him about the data breach but that, at first, he thought it was a hoax and reported it to his information security manager.

Pentagon officials referred requests for information about how the hack could impact servicemembers stationed overseas to OPM. The office’s website includes information on the data breach and ways to monitor financial information and avoid becoming an identity theft victim.

OPM’s director, Katherine Archuleta, told lawmakers this week that no one has lost their job over the cyberattacks, according to the Tribune News Service. Twitter: @SethRobson1

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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