Skip to comments.VA Hard Drive With Personal Data Missing
Posted on 02/04/2007 8:07:57 PM PST by FLOutdoorsman
A portable hard drive that may contain the personal information of up to 48,000 veterans may have been stolen, the Department of Veterans Affairs and a lawmaker said Friday.
An employee at the VA medical center in Birmingham, Ala. reported the external hard drive missing on Jan. 22. The drive was used to back up information on the employee's office computer. It may have contained data from research projects, the department said.
The employee also said the hard drive may have had personal information on some veterans, although portions of the data were protected. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson said that the VA and the FBI are investigating.
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., said that the personal information of up to 48,000 veterans was on the hard drive and the records of up to 20,000 of them were not encrypted.
Pending results of the investigation, VA is planning to send individual notifications and to provide a year of free credit monitoring to anyone whose information is compromised.
This is the second time in Birmingham. The first was a laptop about 2.5 years ago.
Geez. This isn't that difficult.
I worked at a place that provided the mechanics tools. They were in those multi-drawer rollaround cabinets the car repair guys use. Each drawer had a piece of foam with cutouts to match each tool. Inventory @ end of each shift and they'd better have a damn good reason - not excuse - for empty cutouts.
Personal data is way more important than a crummy open-end wrench... It isn't that difficult...
The VA shouldn't be requiring or even allowing its office workers to back up to portable drives. They should be doing it centrally.
Lowest-bidder technology with lax security standards.
Are you kidding me??? Again???? This is getting out of hand, not that it wasn't before.
Good enough for government work I guess.
Seriously, as a vet, I am amazed at the total incompetence and lack of professionalism at the VA. I'm not talking about just this situation either.
This kinda incompetence really bothers me. How many times do I, as a retired USAF vet have to worry that I am gonna be financially ruined because some lifetime beauracrat cannot remember to put a frigging computer or disk drive safely away.
If I find this was another take home issue, I may just lose my mind. Who lets these idiots take that stuff home. I know the story doesnt say that but ...
They have legs.
True it doesn't say that. It could happen in the office itself. Such as a cleaning lady who put it in her purse and walked off with it, expecting to sell the hardware for a few bucks.
Yep, worked for my welfare checks.
Retired-USAF, Retired US Civil Service and SS.
You are right - not this again!
Guess it is time to suck up tthe cost of Life Lock to protect myself.
No---the term is LAZY
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today issued an update on the information potentially contained on a missing government-owned, portable hard drive used by a VA employee at a Department facility in Birmingham, Ala.
³Our investigation into this incident continues, but I believe it is important to provide the public additional details as quickly as we can,² said Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. ³I am concerned and will remain so until we have notified those potentially affected and get to the bottom of what happened.
"VA will continue working around the clock to determine every possible detail we can,² Nicholson said.
VA and VA¹s Office of Inspector General have learned that data files the employee was working with may have included sensitive VA-related information on approximately 535,000 individuals. The investigation has also determined that information on approximately 1.3 million non-VA physicians both living and deceased could have been stored on the missing hard drive. It is believed though, that most of the physician information is readily available to the public. Some of the files, however, may contain sensitive information.
VA continues to examine data on the employee¹s work computer. The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. VA has no information the data has been misused.
The non-VA physician data is used by VA to enhance the quality of care for veterans by analyzing and comparing information about the health care received from VA and non-VA providers.
Next week, VA will begin making notifications to individuals whose sensitive information may have been on the hard drive. VA is also making arrangements to provide one year of free credit monitoring to those whose information proves compromised.
³VA is unwavering in our resolve to bolster our data security measures,² Nicholson added. ³We remain focused on doing everything that can be done to protect the personal information with which we are entrusted.²
On January 22, the employee, who works at the Birmingham (Ala.) VA Medical Center, reported the external hard drive was missing. On January 23, VA¹s IG was notified. The OIG opened a criminal investigation, sent special agents to the medical center, and notified the FBI. VA¹s Office of Information & Technology in Washington, D.C. also dispatched an incident response team to investigate.
The OIG seized the employee¹s work computer and began analyzing its contents. This analysis continues and VA IT staff has been providing technical support.
In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation, the OIG initiated an administrative investigation to determine how such an incident could occur.
VA is operating a call center that individuals can contact to get information about this incident. That toll-free number is 1-877-894-2600.
The call center will operate every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST as long as it is needed.
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In case you hadn't heard - PING
Thanks, I really needed a laugh right about now. Really, no sarcasm intended.