The computers of the U.S. government have fallen prey to hackers once again. It is believed that the cyberattack has compromised the personally identifiable information (PII) of nearly 4 million former and current federal employees.

On Thursday, June 4, the officials revealed that investigations were on and it is suspected that the data breach was masterminded by Chinese hackers.

Senator Susan Collins divulged that investigators were of the opinion that the data breach was "yet another indication of a foreign power probing successfully and focusing on what appears to be data that would identify people with security clearances."

However, the Chinese Embassy in Washington has dismissed the allegations calling them "not responsible and counterproductive."

The attack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is believed to be the largest ever data breach on PII pertaining to government employees. The OPM not only manages records of employees, but also security clearances.

Some reports also suggest that security clearance forms have been taken. If true, this could have a far-reaching affect.

The data breach has affected the IT system of OPM, as well as its data that is stored at the data center belonging to the Department of Interior as divulged by an anonymous Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official to Reuters.

It is not clear whether data from other agencies have also been compromised owing to the cyberattack.

According to Fox News' sources, the addresses, names and social security details of the employees was compromised. Moreover, the cyberattack involved "advanced persistent threat" which was intended to produce information in a clandestine manner without spoiling the systems. The publication's source also divulged that sleuths were investigating the likelihood of the current attack being linked to the White House one in October.

The FBI has started an investigation into the matter.

"We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace," it said in a statement.

The Office of Personnel Management will notify the affected employees, and "offer credit report access, credit monitoring and identify theft insurance and recovery services."

The OPM has advised those affected to report any suspicious activity in their bank accounts and to monitor their account statements.

Photo: Davide Restivo | Flickr

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