Hard drive missing from Birmingham VA Medical Center
WASHINGTON – A portable hard drive that may contain personal information on some veterans and was used by an employee at a Veterans Affairs office in Birmingham is missing and may have been stolen, the Department of Veterans Affairs said in a statement Friday.
An employee at the Birmingham VA Medical Center reported an 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 employee was working on.
The employee also said the hard drive may have had personal information on some veterans, but he said portions of the data were protected.
"This is unacceptable and violates the confidence that thousands of Americans who serve their country have placed in their government," said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham.
Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs said in a statement that the VA's office and the FBI are conducting a thorough investigation and that the VA's office of information technology is carrying out a separate review…
"I am concerned about this report," Nicholson said. "We intend to get to the bottom of this, and will take aggressive steps to protect and assist anyone whose information may have been involved."
The VA has also started an administrative investigation to determine how such a breach could occur, according to the statement.
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, said his office is working to determine the extent of the problem.
"Our initial indication is that personal information of as many as 48,000 veterans may have been compromised, and of even greater concern, the records of as many as 20,000 of our veterans were not encrypted," Bachus said.
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.
"VA is unwavering in our resolve to be the leader in protecting personal information, and training and educating our employees in best practices in cyber and information security," Nicholson said.
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