No loss of data from VA, USDA breaches

The Veterans Affairs and Agriculture departments have determined that sensitive personal data was not accessed in recent incidents of data threats at both agencies.

The FBI informed VA that it has completed its forensic examination of the laptop and hard drive that were stolen from the home of a VA data analyst in May. VA secretary Jim Nicholson announced June 29 that law enforcement had recovered the items. Based on the results of the forensic tests and other information gathered during the investigation, the FBI indicated that the sensitive files were not accessed or compromised, VA said.

USDA said it had notified current and former employees and contractors in the Washington, D.C., area that personal identity information was not downloaded or transferred outside the department's computer system when it was illegally accessed last month.

'Hackers attempt to break into our computer systems an average of two thousand times per day, and we take very seriously our responsibility to protect personal information,' said USDA deputy secretary Chuck Conner in a statement.

The USDA Inspector General's Office is conducting an investigation into the computer intrusion. OIG Investigations personnel conducted forensic analysis of computer logs from a non-USDA computer system involved in the intrusion. The computer logs from that system indicate that the data file containing personal information about USDA employees was not transferred out of the department's computer system.

'We are pleased to share this good news with employees and contractors, and we remain committed to aggressively continuing our review of all USDA data systems containing personal information,' he said.

USDA said it is conducting a thorough review of all department data systems to minimize the amount of personal information in each system and to confirm that appropriate levels of security are in place

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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