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OPM Suspends Federal Background Check System in Wake of Hack

by Julianne Pepitone /

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The fallout from a pair of major federal data breaches continues: The Office of Personnel Management is suspending the online system that new federal employees and contractors use to submit forms for background checks.

OPM posted on its website Monday about the temporary suspension of the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing system (e-QIP), which will be offline for four to six weeks in order for the agency to make "security enhancements."

Related: OPM, Reeling From Federal Data Hacks, Will Hire Cybersecurity Advisor

The move from OPM, which screens and hires federal workers, comes after the agency revealed on June 4 that it had discovered a cyberattack that compromised data for at least 4.2 million current and former federal employees. On June 12 OPM disclosed a second attack that targeted information for millions more Americans who applied for security clearances.

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OPM said Monday it is taking the e-QIP system offline because the agency's post-hack investigation discovered a security problem. However, "there is no evidence that the vulnerability in question has been exploited," the agency said.

Related: OPM Chief Rebuffs Lawmakers on Scope of Cyber Breach

Critics have pointed to the OPM breach as a prime example of the inadequacy of federal cyber protections, and a growing group of lawmakers has called for OPM director Katherine Archuleta to resign. Archuleta has defended herself at a spate of Capitol Hill hearings, including three hearings during the week of June 22 alone. During the third of those hearings, Archuleta said she will hire a new cybersecurity advisor who is expected to start at OPM by August 1.

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