Threatwatch

VA hacked again -- Software upgrade bares beneficiary medical and financial data

Accidentally leaked credentials; Software vulnerability

Was Navy veteran Sylvester Woodland hitting the refresh button incorrectly on the Veteran Affairs' E-Benefits website Wednesday night? “It gave me a different person's name, each and every time I came back," he told ABC.

Woodland said he called the Defense Department, the VA, and North Carolina Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan's office, but he didn't get any response until Thursday morning. Then, the website went down and an email arrived from Defense requesting that he send digital images of the few pages he printed out.

"Already I see the blame game going.  It's the VA.  No, it's the DOD. It's going to bounce back and forth, but can you prove it's an isolated incident?" Woodland said.

He had signed on to the system to track down his own history for a bank loan. Instead, windows kept popping up displaying other veterans' health and financial information.

"When you click on these hyperlinks here, it takes you to the bank account, the direct deposit, bank account, last four, what bank is it for," Woodland said. "I'll bet he has no idea that I'm sitting here in my house with his information."

The VA issued a statement to ABC11 Friday:

“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) takes seriously our obligation to properly safeguard personal information.  Wednesday evening, during a process to improve software supporting the joint VA and Department of Defense benefits web portal eBenefits, VA discovered a software defect. During that limited timeframe, some Veterans and Service members who had registered and logged into eBenefits were able to see a combination of their own information as well as data from other eBenefits users.  VA took immediate action upon discovering the software defect and shut the eBenefits system down in order to limit any problems.  VA is conducting a full review to be certain the underlying technological issues have been resolved before the system is returned to operation.

VA's independent Data Breach Core Team (DBCT) is reviewing this issue and believes a relatively limited number of Veterans have been affected. Once the DBCT determines the number of users impacted, their identities and other pertinent facts, VA will take the appropriate response, which may include free credit monitoring for the affected individuals, consistent with VA's standard practice.”

ThreatWatch is a regularly updated catalog of data breaches successfully striking every sector of the globe, as reported by journalists, researchers and the victims themselves. 

sector

Financial Services; Government (U.S.); Healthcare and Public Health

reported

January 18, 2014

reported by

ABC News

number affected

Unknown

location of breach

United States

perpetrators

Employees

location of perpetrators

United States

date breach occurred

January 15, 2014

date breach detected

January 15, 2014