DAVID E. SANGER
Just a day before the arrival of President Xi Jinping of China for a meeting with President Obama that will be focused heavily on limiting cyberespionage, the Office of Personnel Management said Wednesday that the hackers who stole security dossiers from the agency also got the fingerprints of 5.6 million federal employees.
The attack on the agency, which is the main custodian of the government’s most important personnel records, has been attributed to China by American intelligence agencies, but it is unclear exactly what group or organization engineered it. Before Wednesday, the agency had said that it lost only 1.1 million sets of fingerprints among the more than 22 million individuals whose records were compromised.
“Federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited,” the agency said in a written statement that came out just as Washington was focused on the arrival of Pope Francis on the South Lawn of the White House. But clearly, the uses are growing as biometrics are used more frequently to assure identity in secure government facilities and even on personal iPhones.