Shaheen & Hassan Call for Answers on Department of Veterans Affairs Data Breach Affecting Veterans and Health Care Providers

September 17, 2020

Senators: “It is imperative VA take aggressive and decisive action to address this current incident and lay out a strategy to prevent such problems from arising in the future”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and colleagues in calling for answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about a recent data breach that exposed veterans’ Social Security numbers and other sensitive information and impacted VA community care providers across the country. The VA publicly announced the data breach earlier this week.

“We write today to express our serious concerns with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) continued inability to protect the personal data of veterans and those medical providers in the community who partner with VA to provide veterans timely access to health care. Veterans who rely on VA for health care and providers who do business with VA need assurance that the Department is capable of safeguarding their personal and financial data. Anything less is completely unacceptable,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators continued, “The information provided to Congress on this incident raises countless questions and does not instill confidence that VA is adequately addressing the current incident or working to better safeguard private information in the future.”

In addition, the Senators highlighted concerns over VA measures to protect other important data within its vast data systems and networks. They laid out a series of direct questions to ensure that the Department takes necessary steps to address vulnerabilities and protect the information of veterans and community providers in the future.

As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Hassan has prioritized efforts to strengthen local, state, and federal cybersecurity. Senator Hassan’s bipartisan Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation Act with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was included in a package of bills that were signed into law. In addition, the President signed into law the bipartisan Hassan-Portman Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act to help prevent cyberattacks at all levels of government and the private sector. Senator Hassan also joined in introducing the bipartisan Advancing Cybersecurity Continuing Diagnostics and Mitigation Act, which would update and improve federal agencies’ cybersecurity, and make additional cyber defense resources available to state and local governments.

Read the Senators’ letter to VA Secretary Wilkie HERE.