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Federal computer data breach larger than first suspected

The breach of government computer systems appears to have been much bigger than we were initially told. Officials now say 18 million current and former federal employees may have had their private information hacked. The Chinese are the leading suspects.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill went looking for answers on Tuesday, but got few.

Kathy Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel Management, told a Senate hearing that no one in the U.S. government is responsible for the data breach -- despite seven separate reports, from as far back as 2009, warning the agency of massive cyber vulnerabilities.

Former FBI insider on massive federal data breach

A watchdog report out last Wednesday said a new system in place to detect these attacks is also insufficient. It read in part, "There is a high risk that this project will fail."

Hackers stole personal information to build surveillance files on possible targets for blackmail and threats. One example: Intelligence agents posted overseas.

"They've got a full network," said Sean Henry, a former FBI assistant director. "They know who their friends and relatives are. They know the towns they grew up in. They know the names of their pets. They often times know the deepest, darkest secrets."

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As many as 18 million federal employees have had private information hacked in a major cyber breach, officials say. CBS News

The breach impacts current, former and prospective federal employees and any family member or friend who showed up on a security clearance form.

"You find a lot of information out on people that they don't necessarily want their friends to know," said Henry. "They certainly don't want their enemies to know."

At least three senators and the White House Press Secretary have received notices their personal information may have been compromised. CBS News has also learned that people who haven't worked for the federal government for 15 years have received similar notices.

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