VA: Data Theft Bigger than Reported

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."

/zimages/1/28571.gifFor 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.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead 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.

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Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...