Q&A: Why Was The VA Hacked?

Anthony Brino | Government Health IT | June 25, 2013

In early June, a former Department of Veterans Affairs IT manager told members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee that the VA’s databases have been hacked by at least eight foreign organizations — notably by organizations linked with the Chinese military, which may have viewed (or taken) veterans’ personal identifying data, like Social Security numbers.

The account of the hackings came along with details of an upcoming Inspector General report on security problems plaguing VA IT, as the agency girds for a remediation plan at the same time workers and management are scrambling to improve waiting times for veteran benefits applications.

But why would the VA be a target for hacking in the first place? For one thing, said Chris Wysopal, CTO of the applications security firm Veracode, it may partly be because the agency’s systems are vulnerable and because hackers roam around the internet looking precisely for such systems to breach. [...]