VA: Data Theft Bigger than Reported

 
 
By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2006-06-07 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Nicholson reports that another million active duty records may have been lost in the laptop theft.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson has revealed that the data stolen from an employees home in Maryland in May included personal information on over 1 million active duty, reserve and National Guard personnel. Nicholson said the new information came to light when the Department of Defense compared electronic files. In a statement issued late June 6, Secretary Nicholson said the VA is currently in discussion with "several entities" to determine how current and former service members can be protected.
"They dont have any idea what the hell went out the door in this instance or in any other instance," said Rick Weidman, executive director for Policy & Government Affairs of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Until there is clear, court-sponsored supervision of the agencys security practices, Weidman said, "This is all the more reason we need to shut them down hard." For advice on how to secure your network and applications, as well as the latest security news, visit Ziff Davis Internets Security IT Hub.
A spokesperson for the group of veterans organizations that sued the VA June 6, who asked that he not be identified because he is still trying to work with the VA to solve its problems, said its clear the VA needs more supervision. Read more here about the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over the stolen personal data. "This is just further evidence that they dont know what is out there, who has it or where it exists," the source said. He noted that its troubling that the Department of Defense was already saying that the VAs numbers were wrong before the VA admitted to the larger data loss. "Theyre telling us what they wish were so, when people who know are telling them otherwise," the spokesperson said. Weidman, meanwhile, said, "I dont think weve seen the end of this yet." Invoking a well-known phrase from the Watergate scandal, he added, "This is clearly not a third-rate burglary in Aspen Hill, Maryland… Wheres John Dean when we need him?" Meanwhile, eWEEK has learned that the VA may be in the process of recalling all of its laptop computers. However other sources tell eWEEK that the VA is simply trying to do an inventory to find out how many laptops it has, and where they are. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
 
 
 
 
Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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