Thompson Announces Hearings on Vulnerability of Taxpayers’ Private Information on Government Computers

Washington, DC — Senate Governmental Affairs Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) has scheduled the third in a series of computer security hearings. The hearing on “Computer Security in the Federal Government: Protecting Personal Information” will be held on Wednesday, September 23 at 10 am in Room 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building and will focus on computer security vulnerabilities at the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“The Social Security Administration contains personal information on virtually every worker and retiree in America,” said Thompson. “The information stored in Social Security Administration computers is not only highly valued by unscrupulous criminals, it is highly vulnerable.”

The Committee will hear from the SSA Office of the Inspector General about instances of computer crimes at SSA ranging from “identity theft”, credit card and benefits fraud to “virtual murder.” The General Accounting Office (GAO) will issue two reports assessing federal computer security vulnerabilities. GAO will testify that information on SSA and VA computers is vulnerable to being altered, improperly disclosed, or destroyed by outside hackers. Agency officials will also testify on steps they are taking to address their computer security shortfalls.

“Using tools widely available on the Internet, GAO easily hacked into the Veterans Administration’s computers”, Thompson said. “The private medical, housing, and insurance records of more than 25 million veterans is at risk.”

Hearing witness list attached.