Data Breach: Cyber Hackers Steal Fingerprints and Socials

This article is in reference to the Washington Post story, “OPM says 5.6 million fingerprints stolen in cyberattack, five times as many as previously thought” by Andrea Peterson

The Office of Personnel Management Admits Data Breach

While most people were enjoying the beach and good weather during the summer months, hackers were working overtime stealing information from the government. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) informed the public that over the summer, 21 million people were affected by a large data breach, mostly social security numbers and addresses of former and current government employees. Of those 21 million people, about 1.1 million had the added benefit of having their fingerprints stolen! This sounds awful right? Well, things just got worse! The OPM and the Department of Defense were investigating the cyber attacks and realized that fingerprints were stolen
from 5.6 million people!

Putting aside how the DoD and OPM missed about 4.5 million people from their original report (which by itself raises its own issues), the focus needs to be on security, technology and improvement. Why are these massive companies and government agencies storing fingerprints in the first place? How many cyber attacks need to happen and how many victims need to yell and shout to make significant changes so it doesn’t happen again? Identity theft is awful, but usually curable. Having someone steal your fingerprint is not. As technology improves and the old days of Usernames and Passwords begin to evaporate, companies and the average user are turning to fingerprints for added security. iPhones, laptops, home security systems and other gadgets are trying to walk away from patterns, pictures and pin codes. Biometrics are the new trend to security and peace of mind.

What Went Wrong? How do we stop Hackers? Is there a way to keep fingerprints safe?

Being a Monday morning quarterback is pretty easy, and one of my favorite jobs! However, I have been working with biometrics since Vista (that is pre WBF for the fanatics) so dissecting what went wrong from an outside perspective is crucial. First and foremost, it is the government. What does that mean? The lowest bidder is the one providing the equipment and services. Imagine having a system, my guess some old legacy system, trying to keep track of millions of people. Unless modern technology is used, old tricks and hacks still work. At this point, it is speculation on who hacked the OPM but the endgame is the same: fear and panic. For the majority of Americans shopping, banking, facebooking, gaming, dating, fantasy sports playing and poker betting online fear and panic hit a nerve whenever they hear “hackers” and “stolen”. Ever heard of Ashley Madison? Snooki’s husband and the Duggars hope you never did either.

Secure Biometric Cloud ComputingWhat is the cure? How do we stop these hackers from exploiting the weakness in a security system? The answer is simple, but begins with another question: how about we give them nothing to hack? That is right, simply stop storing fingerprint images and the hackers will waste their time. MinuteHound has an exclusive patent involving cloud computing and advanced technology. We NEVER store fingerprints. I will say that again as our entire business revolves around fingerprints: we NEVER store images of fingerprints! Instead, we break each fingerprint down into a binary number, encrypt it, and then split that information up across multiple servers. I will save you the technical mumbo jumbo of how our matching and retrieval works, but that technical jargon is what sets us apart from every other US company in the biometric business.

Benefits of Knowing Nothing

Is ignorance truly bliss? Not storing fingerprints is truly beautiful design, which is bliss in our field. Our matching sequence can identify an employee faster than you can ask, “how does this work”. Our clients range from small to large in every industry you can imagine. Cloud computing makes business easier and our technology seals it safe. The OPM and DoD are now in cleanup mode trying to fix this huge mess. MinuteHound is a titan in the biometric world not only because our software is the most adaptable to meet the demands of business, but because our technology makes hackers work for free!

Cloud Based Time Clock OnlineCall MinuteHound at 800-351-7237 or e-mail at to see how just pennies a day can decrease payroll costs, increase productivity and safeguard your precious one of a kind fingerprints!

James is a senior writer and manager at MinuteHound. Reach him here:

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