US will pay over $133 million to protect OPM data breach victims

US Office of Personnel Management

That massive data breach at the US Office of Personnel Management is going to cost the country a lot more than you might think. Officials have awarded ID Experts a contract to protect the 21.5 million affected government workers against identity theft. The arrangement will cost the government at least $133.3 million, and options could bring its value to as high as $329.8 million. Suddenly, Sony's identity protection offer following the 2011 PSN breach seems like small potatoes. And that's just part of a smaller effort to mitigate the effects of data breaches -- the General Services Administration has handed out a separate $500 million contract for responding to these kinds of attacks.

The effort could be reassuring if you're one of the many current or former staffers worrying about whether or not a hacker will misuse your personal info. However, there's a question as to whether or not the money will be well-spent. Any short-term damage has likely already been done, after all. And as you might have guessed, identity theft protection may not do much to stop state-sponsored Chinese hackers from creating havoc. Look at it this way, though: the contracts may serve as a (very) expensive lesson in the importance of tight security.

[Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]