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Official describes rampant computer hacking at VA

WASHINGTON (AP) — At least eight foreign-sponsored organizations have hacked into computer networks at the Veterans Affairs Department in recent years or were actively trying to do so, a former VA computer security chief told Congress on Tuesday.

Jerry Davis, who served as the VA’s chief information security officer until February 2013, testified at a House subcommittee hearing that the VA became aware of the computer hacking in March 2010 and that attacks continue “to this very day.”

Davis said the hacking “successfully compromised VA networks and data,” but he did not indicate how the information may have been used. The intrusions raise the potential for identity theft and could complicate efforts to share data with the Pentagon, long viewed as key to quicker processing of disability claims.

“The entire veteran database in VA, containing personally identifiable information on roughly 20 million veterans, is not encrypted, and evidence suggests that it has repeatedly been compromised since 2010 by foreign actors, including in China and possibly in Russia,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs oversight and investigations subcommittee.

Officials with the VA’s inspector general’s office said the main threat to veterans would appear to be credit card theft. They also could not point to any specific instances in which such fraud has occurred. Investigators also said hackers had obtained access to the emails of senior VA managers, but did not know what had been done with the emails

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