Vets Home server held personal data

July 19, 2008

By Norman Draper, Star Tribune

A backup computer server stolen from the Minneapolis Veterans Home contained telephone numbers, addresses, next-of-kin information, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and some medical information, including diagnoses for the home's 336 residents, according to an official with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.

The burglars broke into the facility early last Sunday.

Gil Acevedo, deputy commissioner for Veterans Health Care, said the thieves, who also made off with a tool kit, a laptop computer, a guitar and a computer game, probably had no intention of stealing the data, which can only be accessed by using a password.

"We don't suspect the burglars came in looking for that specifically," he said. "They broke in, kicked in several doors, and took a series of things. There's no pattern."

Acevedo said the department is working with Minneapolis police and assessing the security risks the theft poses to residents.

He said residents and their family members have been told to monitor unusual phone calls or activity on any accounts bearing their names. He said credit bureaus have also been informed of the data theft.

The server that was stolen was a backup that was not in use at the time it was stolen.

Acevedo said that there is no indication that the thieves have used the data, and that officials are reviewing security at the home, which houses aged and disabled veterans.

"The building was locked, and the doors were locked," he said. "We do have 24-hour security on campus. We are going to review our security policy and see how we can improve that."

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