According to a government source, U.S. authorities kept the news of the theft of sensitive personal data on 26.5 million veterans under wraps for 19 days before making the announcement, CNN reports.
The stolen data was housed on a laptop and external disk drive that was stolen on May 3 from the suburban Maryland residence of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee who brought the data home without the appropriate approval, according to CNN.
The laptop and drive contained the Social Security number and discharge records of every living veteran who served and was discharged between 1976 and the present day.
Officials didn’t notify veterans, Congress and the public right away because they were hoping to apprehend those responsible, and they didn’t want to hinder the investigation by drawing attention to the crime, according to CNN.
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs, said on Monday that all those at risk should be “vigilant” in watching their bank accounts and credit reports, CNN reports.
“I’ve got to ask—and certainly I have to ask it of not only the VA, but all of government—why can a data analyst take all of this information home?” Craig said, according to CNN. “That’s a breach of security. In today’s concern about ID theft, that is huge.”
For more background on the theft, read Data on 26.5M Veterans Stolen from VA Staffer’s Home.
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