Update on the VA’s eBenefits website breach

The VA responded to my email inquiries about the recently disclosed breach involving the eBenefits web site with the following statement:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) takes seriously our obligation to properly safeguard personal information. During a limited period of time Wednesday evening, as part of a process to improve software supporting the joint VA and Department of Defense benefits web portal eBenefits, VA discovered a software defect. During the limited timeframe, some Veterans and Servicemembers who had registered and logged into eBenefits were able to see acombination of their own information as well as data from other eBenefits users. VA took immediate action upon discovering the software defect and shut the eBenefits system down in order to limit any problems and prevent further exposure.

VA brought eBenefits back online Sunday, after a period of down time. VA conducted a full review of the software issue and reinforced its security posture, after determining that the defect had been remedied and the portal was functioning properly. All eBenefits functionality is now available to use. We offer our sincere apologies to any Servicemember, Veteran or family member impacted by the software defect and the downtime.

VA’s independent Data Breach Core Team (DBCT) is reviewing the issue and believes a relatively limited number of Veterans have been affected. DBCT will determine the number of users impacted, their identities and other pertinent facts, and VA is taking the appropriate response, which includes free credit monitoring for any affected individuals, consistent with VA’s standard practice.

Background Information:

Initial estimates indicated up to 5,351 of eBenefits 3.38 million users may have been impacted by the software defect; however, a final determination on the number affected will be issued by the DBCT when its review is completed.

I note that this statement does not suggest that the offer of free credit monitoring would be tied to the number of people affected, a concern I had raised after reading Fox News coverage.

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