Lawmaker Says Dept. of Education Vulnerable to Breach, Would Dwarf OPM

Jan. 11, 2016

Lawmaker Says Dept. of Education Vulnerable to Breach, Would Dwarf OPM The breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management disclosed in July was the largest single network intrusion last year, but House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said an attack on the Department of Education would be worse. During a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. last week, Sen. Chaffetz pointed to a recent report from the Inspector General that gave the federal agency an F in several important cybersecurity readiness measures and has repeatedly warned the department that its network security is deficient. Combined with the breadth and extent of information captured by the agency, Sen. Chaffetz warned of the consequences.

“Almost half of America’s records are sitting at the Department of Education,” Chaffetz said during the Thursday hearing, according to The Hill. “I think ultimately that’s going to be the largest data breach that we’ve ever seen in the history of our nation. We’ve been talking a lot about the breach at the Office of the Personnel Management, where we lost data on 22 million people. Here, we’re talking about more than $1 trillion in student loans and data on more than 100 million Americans, and it’s not secure by any definition.”

A hack of that magnitude could be extremely burdensome for card-not-present merchants and financial institutions struggling with higher rates of fraud. The agency holds 139 million Social Security numbers and oversees more than 40 million federal student loan borrowers, which, if stolen, could fuel many different types of fraud, notably account takeovers and account creation.