The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reported yesterday that fingerprint data stolen during the breach of almost 22 million Americans’ data is estimated to be 5.6 million instead of the original estimate of 1.1 million. The increase was due to the discovery of an archived record containing 4.5 million sets of fingerprints that had not been detected earlier during the investigation of the data breach. Although the total figure of the number of individuals affected by the hacking stands at close to 22 million individuals, this means that another 4.5 million individuals’ fingerprints have actually been accessed by the hackers.
The significance of this information for national security is being investigated by an interagency group comprised of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence agencies. Of note is how the hackers can use the fingerprints using existing technology and developing means to prevent misuse of the fingerprint data in the future.