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VA Finds Another Security Hole

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By Allan Holmes June 6, 2007

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has banned the use of unencrypted portable storage devices known as thumb drives, according to an article posted by the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.

Citing an internal June 1 memo on the subject, the Observer reported:

"Despite aggressive efforts to eliminate carelessness and disregard of VA policy ... there have been several recent cases of lost or abandoned thumb drives," wrote Robert Howard, an assistant secretary with the Veterans Affairs Department. He added that the drives contained sensitive personal and medical information, but he provided no specifics. The VA couldn't say Tuesday how many losses had occurred.

A VA spokesman said the department was distributing this week encrypted thumb drives to employees, the Observer reported.

Last year, the VA reported a stolen laptop that contained the records of 26 million veterans and their family members. In January, the VA lost a hard drive with personal financial information for 1.37 million doctors and other health care providers.

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