Two 19-year-old men from Rockville, Md., have been charged in the May 3 theft of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) laptop and hard drive containing the personal information of millions of military veterans.
Montgomery County, Md., police arrested Jesus Alex Pineda and Christian Brian Montano Saturday, the police department said.
Pineda was charged with first-degree burglary and theft over US$500. Montano was charged with first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, theft over $500 and conspiracy to commit theft over $500, the police department said.
Charges are also pending against a third male suspect, who is a juvenile, currently being held on another charge, police said.
The hardware contained personal information including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and some limited health information of 26.5 million U.S. military veterans and their spouses. The laptop and hard drive were recovered by police in late June, and U.S. FBI forensic testing suggested the personal data had not been compromised.
The theft, from a VA analyst’s home, prompted a series of hearings in the U.S. Congress about the VA’s management and IT organization, with several lawmakers calling for an overhaul of the VA’s decentralized IT reporting structure. In July, the House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee approved legislation that would elevate the positions of chief information officer and chief information security officer at the VA, as well as require the organization to immediately report data breaches to Congress.
The VA didn’t report the data theft to Congress until May 22, nearly three weeks after the hardware was stolen from the analyst’s home in Aspen Hill, Md.
The thieves apparently broke into the home by removing a rear basement window, police said. The home was partially ransacked and the thieves took a Hewlett-Packard (HP) laptop, an HP external hard drive, some jewelry and an undisclosed amount of cash.
The police expect that the three suspects will be tied to other residential burglaries that occurred in the Wheaton, Md., area in May.
By Grant Gross, IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)
For more information, read Data Theft at the VA.
Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.