Saturday, September 25, 2010

VA Reports Missing Laptops, BlackBerries

Last week, Department of Veterans Affairs CIO Roger Baker announced that 10 VA laptops went missing in August, NextGov reports.

Baker told reporters about the unusually high number of lost computers during a scheduled call to discuss VA's required monthly reports to Congress on potential data breaches.

Six laptops went missing in June and July.

Of the 10 discovered missing in August, seven were encrypted and required a password to access data. Of the three unencrypted computers, one was used to design prosthetic devices but did not include patient data, according to the report (Sternstein, NextGov, 9/17).

In addition, 49 BlackBerry devices were reported lost or stolen at VA from June through August, Baker said (Lipowicz [1], Federal Computer Week, 9/17).

VA Increases Security

To address laptop security, VA has adopted a new policy that bars contractors from accessing a storage room without an escort and has installed an alarm system in the office (NextGov, 9/17).

In addition, VA plans to deploy a tool later this month that will provide a real-time view of all computers and electronic devices on the agency's network (Lipowicz [2], Federal Computer Week, 9/17). The system will help to protect the network, as well as veterans' health data, from potential information breaches.

According to Government Health IT, forensic software will:

  • Monitor network systems;
  • Collect electronic evidence during breaches; and
  • Automatically fix system vulnerabilities.

Baker said the added security will cost about $50 million in 2010.

In addition, the agency has increased efforts to ensure that its contractors meet information security requirements to protect veterans' health data (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 9/17).

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