U.S. Postal Service Becomes Latest Business to Fall Victim to Data Breach
The U.S. Postal Service recently experienced a cyber attack that may have exposed the private information of its over 800,000 employees — and the countless customers who made calls to its call center throughout the first eight months of 2014.
According to a Nov. 10 Reuters article, the Postal Service said in a statement that its employees’ compromised information could include “dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, beginning and end dates of employment and emergency contact information.”
“The intrusion is limited in scope and all operations of the Postal Service are functioning normally,” USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said of the data breach in a statement. Partenheimer also said the Postal Service will offer credit monitoring services to its employees at no charge for a year.
The Postal Service joins major retail entities like Target and the Home Depot, which have both fallen victim to similar wide-reaching data breaches that have impacted tens of millions of people in 2014. Small businesses are also becoming more common targets of cyber attacks, with a telling 57% of them reporting cyber breaches over the last few years.
Partenheimer explained in his statement that the breach was executed by a “sophisticated actor” who isn’t interested in identity theft or credit card fraud, while experts agreed that the Postal Service, which serves nearly all Americans and delivers billions of letters annually, made an attractive target, Reuters reports.
And because cyber breaches like this, in which employee data is compromised, typically serve as a precursor to a broader data attack that involves customers, it’s possible that this attack won’t be the last of its kind to affect the Postal Service.
The U.S. government has sought out more information on the attack to help the Postal Service prepare against the possibility of another data breach, according to Reuters, with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asking Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe for more information on the specifics of the breach.
“The increased frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks upon both public and private entities highlights the need for greater collaboration to improve data security,” Cummings, the senior Democrat of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in a letter to Donahoe.