The federal government’s Office of Personnel Management leak went from worse to catastrophic. The number of people affected grows with each new report and it may put millions of people who have a security clearance or who’ve applied for clearance in jeopardy of blackmail or — worse — being turned by foreign governments.

Revealed during congressional hearings into the matter, Donna Seymour, the CIO for OMB, said that “clearance adjudication information” had been compromised. In plain English, this all the potentially dirty laundry has that was brought up during the process of vetting someone for a security clearance is in the wind.

Applying for a security clearance is along and expensive process. Investigators go through the candidate’s personal life, finances and co-workers/supervisors to get a complete picture as to who the person is. They’re not just looking for personal beliefs that would make some susceptible to spying for a foreign government — they’re looking for situations the person may be in that would make them vulnerable to blackmail or financial temptation.

If the person has problems with money or is struggling with a drug or gambling addiction, they’ll be likely to sell secrets for money. If they’re an having affair or engaging compromising behavior, they’re open to blackmail.

All of these potential problems go into what’s called “adjudication”, in which investigators decide if the person’s finances and personal life are a threat and whether they should be granted a security clearance. Greater access means digging deeper with more details. Polygraph tests, in which the person is bluntly ask extremely sensitive and personal information, are also part of the file.

The information gained in the hack is a virtual laundry list of weaknesses and temptations for anyone who has access to sensitive government information.

Via The Daily Beast

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