Cyberattack exposes 123,000 TSP accounts

Social Security numbers, financial information compromised.

A sophisticated cyberattack on the computer of a third-party Thrift Savings Plan contractor compromised the personal information of tens of thousands of TSP participants.

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and Serco Inc., a contractor that provides services to the TSP, learned in April of a July 2011 attack on a Serco computer. The FBI told Serco and the board that the incident led to “unauthorized access” to accounts of as many as 123,000 TSP participants and other recipients of TSP payments.

The FBI analysis determined that files accessed by the cyberattacker contained the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of more than 43,000 individuals; some of those files also contained financial account and routing numbers. Another group of 79,000 had their Social Security number and other TSP-related information taken.

FBI officials told Government Executive Friday they could not comment on their ongoing investigation into the attack.

According to FRTIB, there is no indication the data has been misused or TSP’s website has been affected by the cyber breach. The compromised computer was immediately shutdown following the incident.

FRTIB, which oversees the TSP, sent letters Friday to all affected individuals offering information on services that can help with credit monitoring. Those participants should receive the letters Saturday or Tuesday, May 29, according to Kim Weaver, the board’s director of external affairs.

Additionally, the board and Serco have formed a response team to conduct a systemwide review of all computer security procedures. FRTIB will receive alerts to their internal records to allow for additional scrutiny of affected accounts, Weaver said.

“We sincerely regret that this event occurred,” Greg Long, executive director of the board, said in a statement Friday. “We are working with Serco and other security experts to ensure that TSP data is protected and secure.”

According to a statement from Serco, Inc. Friday, the complete forensic analysis of the breach required opening and reviewing thousands of files to determine the identity of the individuals affected and the nature of the information at risk.

“This incident fits with the increasing number of cyberattacks in which the goal of those seeking unauthorized access does not appear to include identity theft or financial misappropriation,” Serco officials said. “It is unfortunate reminder that federal government and private company IT assets, computers and data are under pervasive, sophisticated attack.”

This story has been updated.

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