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CHIPS Articles: You've Been Exposed

You've Been Exposed
More than 21 million people affected by data breach
By Terrina Weatherspoon, Defense Media Activity - July-September 2015
In July I received a letter from the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) letting me know that my information may have been "exposed."

I, like most of the country, had heard about the OPM breach. In the spring of 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) became aware of unprecedented compromises to government employee personal data. Later they announced a second breach involving the federal background investigation data of more than 21 million individuals.

I knew there was a really good chance my information was out there, and this letter confirmed it. The exposed information may have included my name, Social Security number, date and place of birth, background investigation information, as well as my current and former addresses.

However, they didn't just write me with a problem, they wrote me steps toward a solution: 18 months of intensive credit monitoring with a company that specializes in identity theft protection and fraud resolution and a million dollars in identity theft insurance. So I followed the instructions for signing up and I tucked the letter away.

Two days later I opened up a credit card account to purchase a mattress. Within hours I received an email letting me know I needed to log into my credit monitoring account. When I did, there was the inquiry from the mattress company along with directions I should take if this wasn't done by my direction.

A week later I was notified by email that a sex offender had moved into my county. I logged back on to my credit monitoring account and was able to see exactly where the person was living, as well as information on other sex offenders in my area. Only one week after that, I was sent an email just to let me know that nothing strange had been detected on my account.

Quite a few people I know have received the same type of letter I did, and in the coming weeks OPM will send notification packages to more affected Department of the Navy (DON) personnel. The official message about the breach stated that we should all just assume we are affected by the compromise of this information. However, DON will continue to assess the risks, provide resources and provide educational materials and guidance to help those affected.

I know this is serious. I know that it's all over the news and politicians are talking about it. I know my information is out there and I don't know how someone might choose to use it. The weight of the situation hasn't hit me yet, because right now I'm only worried about how many sex offenders are moving into my area. But I'm sure of one thing — the DON is fully engaged in doing whatever is possible to minimize the impact.

But there are still things we can do:

-- Monitor your account statements and report anything suspicious.

-- Request a free credit report from

-- Review resources provided on the FTC identity theft website

-- Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits or emails.

-- Do not provide personal information about yourself or your organization unless the person has the authority to have that information.

-- Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email.

-- Do not send sensitive information over the internet before checking a website's security.

-- Pay attention to website URLs and be mindful of malicious websites that may look identical to authentic websites.

-- Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls and email filters.

-- Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.

For more information on the breach and for resources and educational materials and guidance on what you can do to protect your information, read the ALNAV messages 052/15 and 056/15 here.

Reprinted from the U.S. Navy’s ALL HANDS MAGAZINE 12 AUG 15

OPM data breach image. U.S. Navy graphic
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CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

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