When your very private life goes very public

By now federal workers, postal employees and retirees are used to their private information going public.

Feds have been the subject of several major breaches, at least one of them believed to have come out of China. Both the work and personal data of feds have been hacked along with a breach several years ago of Thrift Savings Plan data.

Earlier this week, nearly half of the Senate — 44 of 100 members — grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for five hours about how a political consulting group hired by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump got and used data on 71 million Americans — including maybe you — on the social media website. House members repeated the hearings Wednesday.

Recently I asked reader Anthony Corridore to write a guest column on a subject of his choice. He did, and the timing is perfect — and sobering, because the subject is the OPM Data Breach and Monitoring Services:

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”Are you on Facebook? Were you aware when you signed up for Facebook that the company would ‘monetize’ your personal data? As many as 87 million users may have been affected. Had you known this in advance, would it have mattered to you?

“I can’t help but wonder if Mark Zuckerberg exposed his own personal data. And, I can hear the ‘cha-ching’ in the background and wonder how much in political contributions Zuckerberg and Facebook will be making to call off the politicians.

“If you are a federal employee, having your personal data compromised may be old hat. After all, in 2015 the Office of Personnel Management systems were hacked and data potentially compromised. Initially, three years of monitoring protection were offered to federal employees and retirees. For those who have security clearances, that has now been expanded to 10 years, through the end of FY 2026.

“If affected, you are provided identity theft protection and credit monitoring services.
Public Law 115-31 increased the monitoring for identity and credit monitoring services and protection up to $5 million for identity theft protection. Do you think Facebook or others will provide its customers and users this sort of protection? When signing up for any sort social media is there the potential that your data, your profile, can be compromised?

“If federal systems can be hacked, what is the likelihood that the private sector secures its data to a greater extent? Incidentally, almost three years since the revelation of the OPM data breach, the Inspector General reports that OPM is struggling with efforts to modernize their IT infrastructure and implement secure IT systems that are only possible with current technology.”

A note to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees White Oak Chapter:

I was due to speak to the chapter this week. Tuesday morning I got to the church/civic center where it meets an hour early. Or so I thought. Turns out I was 23 hours late. The monthly meetings are held on Mondays.

There were not many cars in the parking lot so I waited until the last minute hoping to make a grand arrival. Turns out there were several women there who were not current or former civil servants. They were just finishing up a yoga class.

We looked on the schedule which confirmed that I was a day late. So sorry about that. No excuse. Just misread my calendar. So that the trip would not be in vain, I asked the three yoga ladies if they would like to hear my talk about life in the civil service, federal retiree cost of living adjustments and changes in the FERS program. They all expressed keen interest, then discovered they each had medical or dental appointments. So I struck out twice on Tuesday. Sorry NARFE, next time I will confirm in advance.

 

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

At nearly 2,485 miles from Shark Bay in the west to Cape Byron in the east, Australia is wider than the moon, which measures 2,159 miles in mean diameter.

Source: (Geoscience Australia and NASA)