Personal information of 21.5 million Americans has been stolen allegedly by Chinese hackers, says the Office of Personnel Management.
Following its long-awaited damage assessment, the office said on Thursday that hackers, who breached US government databases, stole information of those people both inside and outside government.
“Throughout this investigation, OPM has been committed to providing information in a timely, transparent and accurate manner,” OPM said in a statement.
“If an individual underwent a background investigation through OPM in 2000 or afterwards … it is highly likely that the individual is impacted by this cyber breach,” it added.
The people affected include 19.7 million, who underwent a background investigation, as well as 1.8 million others, mostly spouses or cohabitants of applicants for government jobs.
The figure is six times as much the number announced by the office last month when it first acknowledged that a breach had taken place. The OPM said then the breach had affected 4.2 million current and former federal employees.
The office says that the hackers had rummaged through its various databases for over a year.
The breach has resulted in a series of hearings in Congress and harsh criticism of the state of US cyber-defenses with lawmakers and US officials calling it as a significant threat to national security.