Department of Veteran Affairs Reports Breach of Payment System and Potential Theft of Veterans’ SSNs

HIPAA Journal

Steve Alder

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has experienced a data breach involving the personal information of around 46,000 veterans.

Hackers gained access to an online application used by the VA Financial Services Center (FSC) and attempted to divert payments sent by the VA to community care providers to pay for veterans’ medical care. Social engineering tactics were used, and authentication protocols were exploited to gain access to the application and change bank account information.

Upon discovery of the breach, the FSC took the payment processing application offline to prevent any further payments from being sent. It is unclear how many payments were sent before the cyberattack was discovered and whether the attack was detected in time to block fraudulent transfers. The FSC said the breached payment processing application will remain offline until the Office of Information Technology has performed a comprehensive security review.

The main purpose of the cyberattack appears to have been...

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