July 13, 2006

FBI: stolen laptop with veterans’ data unharmed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - No data has been taken from a stolen
laptop computer containing sensitive information on more than
26 million U.S. military veterans and service members, the FBI
said on Thursday.

The FBI and the Veterans Affairs Department Office of
Inspector General, or VA OIG, have conducted a forensic
examination of the laptop, stolen along with an external hard
drive from a VA employee's residence in May.

"Based on all of the facts gathered thus far during the
investigation, as well as on the results of the FBI and VA OIG
computer forensics examinations, the FBI and VA OIG are highly
confident that the files on the external hard drive were not
compromised," the FBI said in a statement.

The laptop and hard drive were turned in to the FBI's
Baltimore field office on June 28. The FBI has not identified
the person who turned over the equipment.

The theft of the laptop raised fears that nearly all
military personnel were at risk of identity theft. Authorities
have said the theft was part of a routine burglary in which
other items were taken.

Lawmakers and veterans' advocates have criticized the
government for failing to safeguard that data that included
Social Security numbers and disability ratings that could be
used in credit card fraud and other crimes.