Air Force personnel warned of personal data breach

The Air Force has begun notifying more than 33,000 airmen throughout the service that much of their personal information was stolen from the online Assignment Management System.

Air Force Personnel Center officials at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas alerted service and federal investigators to unusually high activity on a single user's AMS account in June. While the investigation is continuing, AFPC spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michele DeWerth said a malicious user illegally acquired a legitimate user ID and password and used them to gain access to officers' individual information. Only a handful of noncommissioned officers were affected, she said.

'It is an ongoing investigation, but there is no direct evidence of identity theft,' DeWerth said. The delay between discovering the breach and communicating with individuals was to facilitate the investigation, she added.

'We notified airmen as quickly as we could while still following criminal investigation procedures' with the Office of Special Investigations, Maj. Gen. Tony Przybyslawski, commander of AFPC, said in a written statement. 'We notified the individuals involved outlining what happened and how they can best insulate themselves from this potential risk.'

DeWerth said the AFPC moved to improve security as soon as it learned of the breach. In addition, officers may log in to the virtual Military Personnel Flight to see if their information was viewed. If it was, they will receive a pop-up banner that will provide further information. The small number of noncommissioned offers affected will be contacted directly.

The personnel agency also suggested that officers follow the guidelines laid out by the Federal Trade Commission on dealing with identity theft. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, beginning Sept. 1 every consumer is entitled to one free credit check annually. AFPC also is asking that any airman who believes he or she has become a victim of identity theft contact their local base OSI and legal office.

AMS is an online program used for assignment preferences and career management. It contains career information on officers and enlisted personnel, as well as some personal information such as birthdates and social security numbers. It does not contain personal address, phone numbers or specific information on dependents.

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