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OPM Locks Down New Cybersecurity Advisor

In the wake of the massive data breaches that rocked the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) earlier this year, the agency appointed a new cyber and information technology advisor yesterday (Nov. 4).

The hiring is part of OPM’s ongoing efforts to advance its cybersecurity-related goals and strengthen its defenses to prevent further attacks, like the ones that left the personal information of more than 21.5 million federal workers and contractors compromised.

Clifton Triplett, who has 30 years of cross-industry and IT organizational transformation experience and distinguished military background, will take on the role of strengthening OPM’s enterprise architecture and cybersecurity, OPM said.

“To help build on the federal government’s efforts to strengthen our cybersecurity posture and provide assistance to individuals impacted by the recent cyber intrusions, we must recruit and retain a variety of highly motivated and qualified individuals from this constantly evolving field,” Acting Director Beth Cobert said in a news release. “Today’s announcement of hiring Clif builds on the growing capacity here at the Office of Personnel Management and underscores our relentless dedication to protecting this agency’s valuable IT systems and information. Clif’s experience in building information technology infrastructure is top-rated, and I am excited to have him on board.”

Triplett will also work alongside OPM’s CIO to support the ongoing response to the recent incidents, finalize OPM’s plan to mitigate future incidents and recommend further security improvements to OPM’s IT architecture.

“I’m honored to join the dedicated team at OPM and I’m eager to immediately get to work with our interagency partners,” Triplett stated. “We all have a role to play in securing our systems and protecting our information, and I’m committed to supporting these critical efforts across the federal government.”

Despite its reported efforts to beef up its cyber defenses and IT systems, new revelations surrounding the devastating attacks that took place earlier this year continue to cast doubt on the agency’s past claims on data security.

Just months ago, OPM released a statement explaining that of the 21.5 million digital records compromised by a team of hackers, 1.1 million were originally announced to have had copies of their fingerprints stolen but the number of impacted fingerprint files is actually closer to 5.6 million in total.

“The fact that the number [of fingerprints breached] just increased by a factor of five is pretty mind-boggling,” Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Washington Post at the time. “I’m surprised they didn’t have structures in place to determine the number of fingerprints compromised earlier during the investigation.”

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