Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




In 2015 the federal government announced the largest data breach in United States government history. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was hacked, and the personal information of more than 25 million American people was lost to foreign attackers. This incident has spawned concern and outrage about the security of government data in the emerging digital age.

Moving forward from the breach questions remain about how this event happened. It's clear that there were weaknesses that were taken advantage of by malicious threats abroad, and investigations into the attack have yielded surprising results. Not only was the security in place at OPM insufficient, this fact had been known for years leading up to the breach. Along with the agency, third-party contractors working with the agency and the federal government contributed to the weak security controls that allowed this calamity to occur.

With cyber security moving to the forefront of the American public's mind, it is important to understand what has been done to shore up the defenses in place to protect federal data since the attack, and what can be done in the future to prevent attacks like this to from being successful in the future. Cybersecurity will be increasingly important for the government to address as hackers and other militant groups gain access to better hacking technology.



Faculty Mentor

Shannon Peterson

Departmental Honors Advisor

Shannon Peterson