The Federal Aviation Administration has fallen prey to hackers looking to steal personal information, just as President Barack Obama on Monday ordered a 60-day review of the government's cyber-security policies.
The data breach within the FAA's computer system occurred last week, comprising two files, said Tom Waters of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents affected employees. One file listed the names and Social Security numbers of 45,000 employees and retirees since February 2006. The second file contained employee medical histories but was encrypted.
A spokeswoman for the FAA confirmed the breach, the Associated Press reports, while Waters accused the agency of "malpractice."
"These government systems should be the best in the world and apparently they are able to be compromised," Waters said. "Our information technology systems people need to take a long hard look at themselves and their capabilities."
Obama's cybersecurity review looks to do just that, Reuters reports.
The review, which will examine what the federal government already is doing to protect vital U.S. computer networks, underscores mounting concerns about the risks of cyber attacks, and points to a growing market for U.S. contractors.
Northrop Grumman Corp, Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, the Pentagon's biggest contractors, already are working on a variety of cyber security projects for the U.S. government, many of which are classified.
Industry executives say the sector will be one of their fastest-growing markets in coming years, and analysts say it could generate over $10 billion in contracts by 2013.
Obama has tapped Melissa Hathaway, a top cyber security adviser to former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, to oversee the review.
Obama lists cybersecurity among his administration's top priorities. After taking office, he pledged on the White House's Web site to "build a trustworthy and accountable cyber infrastructure that is resilient, protects America's competitive advantage, and advances our national and homeland security" with help from industry, researchers, and American citizens.