The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said Monday that around 46,000 veterans had their personal information exposed in a data breach
The VA said that hackers gained unauthorized access to their systems with the aim of stealing payments that were meant to go to health care providers who provided treatment to veterans. Some veterans may have had their social security number leaked.
"The Financial Services Center (FSC) determined one of its online applications was accessed by unauthorized users to divert payments to community health care providers for the medical treatment of Veterans,” the Department said in an announcement. “The FSC took the application offline and reported the breach to VA’s Privacy Office.”
Investigation in progress
The VA added that hackers were able to breach the system by “using social engineering techniques and exploiting authentication protocols.” The agency said it’s launching a security review.
"To prevent any future improper access to and modification of information, system access will not be reenabled until a comprehensive security review is completed by the VA Office of Information Technology," it added.
The Department said it’s notifying veterans whose information was exposed in the breach. In cases where the affected veteran is deceased, the Department will notify the next-of-kin.
“The department is also offering access to credit monitoring services, at no cost, to those whose social security numbers may have been compromised," the VA said. "Veterans whose information was involved are advised to follow the instructions in the letter to protect their data. There is no action needed from Veterans if they did not receive an alert by mail, as their personal information was not involved in the incident.”