WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. defense agency responsible for secure White House communications said Social Security numbers and other personal data in its network may have been compromised, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Thursday that was sent to people possibly affected.
The letter, dated Feb. 11, 2020, says that between May and July 2019, personal data may have been compromised “in a data breach” of a system hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency.
The agency provides direct telecommunications and IT support for President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, their staff, and the U.S. Secret Service, according to its website.
It also provides direct support to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior members of the armed forces, and its field offices support U.S. military commanders abroad.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The letter gave few further details. For example, it did not say what part of DISA’s network had been breached, nor identify which individuals may have had their data compromised.
The term data breach can have many meanings, from hackers penetrating a network to a supposedly secure server being accidentally exposed to the internet.
The agency’s letter said it had no evidence any personal data possibly taken was misused, but that it was required to notify individuals who may have had data taken.
Pentagon spokesman Chuck Prichard said individuals possibly affected were being offered “information about actions that can be taken to mitigate possible negative impacts” of the breach, as well as free credit monitoring.
DISA, headquartered at Fort Meade in Maryland, employs about 8,000 military and civilians, according to its website. Prichard did not say how many people could have been affected by the breach, saying only that DISA had investigated the incident “and taken appropriate measures to secure the network.”
Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Howard Goller and Daniel Wallis