House committee approves VA cyber security bill

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Last week the House Veterans Affairs Committee gave its approval to a new bill that if signed into law would seek to improve the security of data stored by the agency, Congress Daily reports.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is still reeling from the theft of a laptop stolen from an employee’s home in May. At the time it was feared that the highly personal information of some 25 million veterans had been breached, putting service personnel and their spouses at risk for things like identity theft. Since then, the laptop was returned and the FBI determined that none of the personal information contained within it had been viewed.

The Veterans Identity and Credit Protection Act of 2006, as it is called, would take a number of steps to boost the safety of data, including a process of instant warnings to Congress and other federal offices, as well as the veterans impacted themselves, in the event of security violations; would provide credit protection services for veterans; and would establish PIN numbers for veterans to use to identify themselves.

Other reported changes would include the creation of an Office of Undersecretary for Information Security to be headed by the VA’s CIO with the support of three deputies to help manage data security policy.