The Office of Personnel Management on Thursday afternoon announced it’s beginning to restore access to an online system used to process background investigations. Officials had yanked the system offline last month after uncovering a vulnerability during a security review.
The system outage came weeks after OPM first announced personal information on millions of current and former federal employees had been stolen by hackers. Earlier this month, OPM confirmed a total of 21.5 million employees, contractors and their families were affected by the hack, which included information collected on background investigations forms stored by OPM.
OPM “proactively” pulled the plug on the Web-based e-QIP system June 26 “as a result of our comprehensive security assessment, to safeguard the ongoing security of the network,” said OPM spokesman Sam Schumach in a statement. Official didn’t detect any malicious activity, and there was no evidence the unspecified vulnerability had ever been exploited, he said.
The system has been down less than four weeks. OPM is working with agencies to incrementally resume service “in an efficient and orderly way.”
The decision to put e-QIP back online comes after “extensive testing,” Schumach said. During the downtime, OPM worked with cybersecurity experts from the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Homeland Security to make security upgrades, including enhanced password protections and steps to secure the transmission of data within the system.
“Based on the security enhancements and the extensive testing that has been completed, OPM is re-enabling access to e-QIP with confidence in the security of the system,” Schumach said.
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