Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Another Veterans Affairs PC Missing; Personal Data on many thousands at risk

Agency says another PC with veterans' data missing
By Philipp Gollner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said on Monday that a desktop computer with personal data on as many as 38,000 U.S. military veterans had disappeared from Unisys Corp., a subcontractor.

Disclosure of the breach comes three days after authorities arrested two teenagers in the theft of a laptop and hard drive containing sensitive data on as many as 26.5 million veterans and military personnel.

The equipment in that case, turned in to authorities on June 28, was stolen May 3 during a burglary of a VA employee's home, authorities said.

In the latest case, Unisys told the VA on August 3 that the computer was missing from the company's offices in Reston, Virginia, the VA said. The VA and Unisys said the data may include names, addresses, Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

The data do not contain personal financial information, Unisys said in a statement, but the VA said it may include patients' insurance carriers and billing information, dates of military service and claims information that may include some medical information.

The VA's inspector general, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies "are conducting a thorough investigation of this matter," Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson said in a statement.

The agency said it believes the records concern about 5,000 patients treated at the VA medical center in Philadelphia and about 11,000 seen at a VA facility in Pittsburgh over the past four years, as well as about 2,000 deceased veterans.

The agency said it is also investigating whether the computer contained information on about another 20,000 people who were treated at the Pittsburgh medical center.

Unisys said it had launched a "comprehensive search and investigation" and was working with the VA and law enforcement agencies investigating the incident.