More problems possible surrounding Veterans Administration data breach


Now, it turns out that the breach the ABC11 I-Team first reported on last week may only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to VA privacy problems.

One of the main advocates for veterans in Washington D.C. is the House Committee on Veteran Affairs. ABC11 talked to Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller on Wednesday about the privacy breach.

Miller, a Florida Republican, said it's just the latest in a series of IT problems at the VA that have opened veterans up to identity theft and fraud.

"At first, I thought it was just a glitch, but the more I thought about it, I said, 'Wait a minute. This is more than a glitch, this is a breach,'" said veteran Sylvester Woodland.

It appears Woodland was one of the first veterans to report the problem last Thursday. He was on the Veterans Affairs e-benefits website looking for his own financial history. He said every time he refreshed the page it would pop up other veteran's information -- financial and medical.  

Woodland saw more than a dozen accounts, and could have changed them if he'd wanted to, and he wasn't alone.

Other vets started commenting on the internet. One saying, "This is worse than the NSA." Another said, "Change your passwords immediately."

"If I were to advise veterans across this country, I'd tell them to raise hell," said Miller.

Miller said the VA has a history of poor stewardship when it comes to veterans' information -- from keeping passwords private to keeping the main system safe. He said the system has been hacked several times.

"It's unbelievable that VA would not step forward and tell the veterans of this country that there is a serious IT issue in their agency that they have yet to take responsibility for," said Miller.

The VA says they discovered a software defect when they were upgrading the e-benefits website. They think about 5,000 vets were affected.

Their internal investigation isn't over, though. There are still many big questions unanswered. Among them, for Miller, is who's responsible and what's the VA going to do about it.

"The person that's in charge of the IT system needs to be fired," said Miller.

Miller said he plans to hold hearings on the privacy breach in the next few weeks.

The VA has not responded yet to ABC11's numerous attempts to answer questions about the breach.

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