• United States



Stolen VA Laptop Recovered

Jun 29, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The government has recovered the stolen Department of VeteransAffairs (VA) laptop computer with sensitive data on up to 26.5 millionveterans and military personnel, Veterans Affairs Secretary JimNicholson announced to the Associated Press, Forbes reports.

The IDG News Service reports that after conducting forensictesting, the FBI determined and told the VA the personal data on thehardware was not accessed by thieves.

The AP reports Nicholson also mentioned there have been no reportsof identity theft to any veterans since the laptop was stolen from theMaryland home of an agency employee. However, Nicholson offered noimmediate details on how the laptop was recovered.

The article also states that newly discovered documents show the VAanalyst blamed for losing the laptop had received permission to workfrom home on data that included millions of Social Security numbers.

“From the start, the VA has acted as if the theft was a PR problemthat had to be managed, not fully confronted,” Rep. Bob Filner,D-Calif, told the AP. “They’re trying to pin it on this one guy, but Ithink it’s other people we need to be looking at.”

According to the documents provided to the AP, the analyst, whosename was being withheld, had approval as early as Sept. 5, 2002, to usespecial software at home that was designed to manipulate large amountsof data.

The AP also states that a separate agreement, dated Feb. 5, 2002,from the office of the assistant VA secretary for policy and planning,allowed the worker to access Social Security numbers for millions ofveterans. A third document, also issued in 2002, gave the analystpermission to take a laptop computer and accessories for work outsideof the VA building.

However, the VA said last month it was in the process of firing theanalyst, who is now challenging the dismissal. VA officials told the APthat the firing was justified because the analyst violated departmentprocedure by taking the data home. They also said he was “grosslynegligent” in handling sensitive information.

For more information, read Data Breach at the VA.