"Your identity may be stolen, vets are warned" – NY Daily News, 11/2/06

November 2, 2006 | Other News

For your information. I am enclosing three articles (NY Daily News, NY Times and SC Magazine) that tell about a stolen laptop taken from the Mahattan VA Medical Center. The thing I am pissed about is that the theft took place on September 6th and we are all just finding out about it now! I have asked the VA to for more information and if I receive anything, I will put it out. Please forward this to others. Special thanks to Helene Van Clief who was the first to report this item from seeing it on Channel 2 news on Halloween night. –

Joe Bello


New York Daily News

Your identity may be stolen, vets are warned

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

The feds are warning hundreds of war veterans that they could become victims of identity theft because a computer was stolen from the Manhattan Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The computer storing veterans’ personal information was snatched Sept. 6 from the E. 23rd St. hospital, according to an Oct. 20 letter sent to veterans.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) released the letter yesterday and blasted VA officials for failing to warn veterans sooner.

“The VA seems to be mishandling this situation at every step of the way – first they lost yet another computer, then they waited almost two months to tell veterans that their identities might be at risk,” Maloney said.

“When is the VA finally going to get serious about protecting veterans’ personal data?”
The latest theft comes after two incidents this year in which VA computers storing information on millions of veterans went missing.

John Donnellan, director of VA New York Harbor Health Care, told veterans in the Oct. 20 letter that the latest stolen computer had been locked to a cart and stored in a locked room.
“Unfortunately sensitive personal information, including your name, Social Security number and possibly a diagnosis is among the information on the computer,” Donnellan wrote.

He offered veterans access to a free credit monitor who will alert them if their identities were stolen.

November 2, 2006

Computer With Personal Data Is Stolen From V.A.

A computer with sensitive information, including the Social Security numbers and the names of 1600 military veterans in the New York area, was stolen from a Department of Veterans Affairs facility in Manhattan, a department spokeswoman said yesterday.
The theft, which was first noticed by the hospital staff on Sept. 6, came to light in late October after a letter was sent to veterans whose information was stolen.

The spokeswoman, Lisette Mondello, said the stolen computer was used to record results from a particular pulmonary testing device, and did not contain medical records. The computer was stored in a locked room on the New York campus of the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System on 23rd Street. The Veterans Affairs police, the F.B.I. and the inspector general’s office are investigating the theft.

Additional cameras were installed at the facility after the theft, according to the letter. The Veterans Affairs office is offering free credit monitoring service to those who have been affected.

This is the second case this year involving a stolen Veterans Affairs department computer. In May, a laptop computer with the records of 17.5 million active and retired military personnel was stolen from an agency employee’s home in suburban Maryland. The computer was recovered in June, apparently with its data untouched.

Representative Carolyn Maloney, who represents some of the veterans whose data was stolen in the latest case, criticized the agency.

“When is the V.A. finally going to get serious about protecting veterans’ personal data?” she said in a statement.

Another VA breach affects 1,600 veterans from New York system

By Dan Kaplan Nov 2 2006 17:04

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is again warning veterans their identity may be at risk following the theft of an unencrypted laptop from the agency’s New York Harbor Healthcare System.

The breach affects veterans who receive pulmonary care at the hospital, according to an Oct. 20 letter to veterans, released Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. The computer, stored in a locked room at the time of the theft, contained personal information, including names, Social Security numbers and diagnosis data, the letter said.
About 1,600 veterans were affected by the Sept. 6 theft, VA spokeswoman Jo Shuda told SCMagazine.com. She was unsure if the laptop was encrypted. Duplicate patient listings incorrectly placed the number of affected vetersans at 2,400 earlier in the day, according to VA officials.

“It is difficult to assess the possibility that your personal information could be accessed from this computer,” the letter said. “However, given that personal information is on the computer, a credit monitoring service will be purchased for all veterans potentially impacted by this incident.”

The announcement of the theft came about six months after a laptop containing the personal information of millions of veterans and active duty personnel was stolen from the home of a VA employee.

The laptop eventually was turned in to police, and authorities do not believe any sensitive data was accessed. Since then, the VA has mandated all laptops be encrypted and, earlier this week, confirmed former U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Bob Howard as the new assistant secretary for information and technology at the VA.

“VA will become the gold standard in government for securing information, and Bob Howard has the technical expertise and managerial skill to help us achieve that objective,” VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said Monday in a statement.

Still, Maloney – who represents some victims of the most recent breach – said she is not satisfied with the VA’s security response.

“The VA seems to be mishandling this situation at every step of the way,” she said. “First they lost yet another computer, then they waited almost two months to tell the veterans that their identities might be at risk. When is the VA finally going to get serious about protecting veterans’ personal data?”

In the New York case, the laptop was not encrypted because it is a medical device, Shuda said. However, 82 percent of non-medical laptops managed by the healthcare system have been encrypted, she said.