By David Hubler
July 19, 2006
Jim Nicholson, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, has
decided not to offer free credit-monitoring services to veterans whose
personal data could have been compromised when a laptop computer and hard
drive was stolen from a VA employees home in May.
Police recovered the items last month, and FBI forensic experts examined
"Given the FBI's high degree of confidence that the information recently
recovered was not accessed or compromised, VA believes that individual
credit monitoring will no longer be necessary," the department said in a
statement posted on its Web site.
Nicholson "remains unwavering in his resolve to make VA the leader in
protecting personal information, training and educating our employees in
best practices, and establishing a culture that always puts the
safekeeping of veterans personal information first," the statement reads.
Nicholson is scheduled to appear before the Senate Veterans Affairs
Committee July 20 to respond to a report by the VAs inspector general on
the incident. The IGs office found that several high-ranking department
officials were lax in their response to the theft and called for reforming
the agency's information technology structure.
Protecting veterans' private information remains a priority for the VA,
according to the Web site statement. "Out of an abundance of caution and
to further safeguard individuals' information, VA will work swiftly to
solicit bids from companies that provide data-breach analysis, the
statement reads. Data-breach analysis looks across multiple industries to
detect patterns of misuse related to a specific data loss. While it is
considered highly unlikely by the FBI and law enforcement that this data
was accessed, data-breach analysis will provide additional assurances."
The VA has the funds in its budget to pay for the analysis, and officials
said the effort will not affect the quality of health care and other
services veterans receive.
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