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VA scam alert!!!
Old 06-30-2006, 01:44 PM   #1
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VA scam alert!!!

Stolen VA Laptop Found, but Scam Warning Issued

Department of Veterans' Affairs Secretary James Nicholson says the stolen laptop computer that contained millions of veterans' personal data has been recovered. The equipment is being analyzed by FBI forensic specialists in an effort to determine whether the data may have been compromised.

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that VA has been spending $200,000 a day to maintain a call center for concerned veterans.

Ironically, the VA issued a new warning of a so-called "phishing" scam that targets veterans who may be worried that their VA data was stolen.* It involves Internet fraudsters who send mass e-mails or pop-up messages asking unsuspecting recipients to provide personal information [credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information] so the scammer can "check whether their data has been compromised."*

According to the VA, some of these e-mails originate from the address abuse@vba.va.gov, and ask the recipient to check an account by clicking on a link.* The VA says it has no such e-mail address, and the link in the email is to a web site in Asia.

If you receive a suspicious email, DO NOT open it, but delete it immediately.
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Re: VA scam alert!!!
Old 06-30-2006, 02:12 PM   #2
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Re: VA scam alert!!!

What I don't get is the news reports that say things like:

"The data file wasn't compromised"

or (NBC News) "The data was intact."

Who cares if the data file was compromised, shredded, or sexually violated.* The question is, did they take the data and sell it.

Why do they phrase it that way??
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Re: VA scam alert!!!
Old 06-30-2006, 02:20 PM   #3
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Re: VA scam alert!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
What I don't get is the news reports that say things like:

"The data file wasn't compromised"

or (NBC News) "The data was intact."

Who cares if the data file was compromised, shredded, or sexually violated.* The question is, did they take the data and sell it.

Why do they phrase it that way??
Heard a piece on the radio suggesting that there are ways a forensic geek can determine if the data file had actually been copied (intact) or opened for viewing since the time it went missing. Maybe that's what they got wrong meant.
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Re: VA scam alert!!!
Old 06-30-2006, 03:07 PM   #4
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Re: VA scam alert!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
What I don't get is the news reports that say things like:

"The data file wasn't compromised"

or (NBC News) "The data was intact."

Who cares if the data file was compromised, shredded, or sexually violated. The question is, did they take the data and sell it.

Why do they phrase it that way??
Al,
Welcome back!!
"Compromised" is "security-speak" for "given/sold to the bad guys." When security folks say classified information was "compromised" this is what they mean. Unfortunately, the PA guy didn't clean up the wording before it was released.

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Re: VA scam alert!!!
Old 06-30-2006, 04:47 PM   #5
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Re: VA scam alert!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Heard a piece on the radio suggesting that there are ways a forensic geek can determine if the data file had actually been copied (intact) or opened for viewing since the time it went missing. Maybe that's what they got wrong meant.
There is no sure fire way to tell if a file has been copied...especially if the "copier" didn't want you to know...the VA telling people the data hasn't been copied, may of course be true, but I am sure they actually have no idea if it was or wasn't.
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Re: VA scam alert!!!
Old 06-30-2006, 09:36 PM   #6
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Re: VA scam alert!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
What I don't get is the news reports that say things like:

"The data file wasn't compromised"

or (NBC News) "The data was intact."

Who cares if the data file was compromised, shredded, or sexually violated. The question is, did they take the data and sell it.

Why do they phrase it that way??
Hey Slideman, glad to hear from you.
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Re: VA scam alert!!!
Old 07-01-2006, 03:03 PM   #7
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Re: VA scam alert!!!

In a nutshell and really, really simplified so a non computer person can get it (in other words, expert correction of the description is probably not helpful ), the data is stored magnetically and there are variances in the strength of the fields. Its possible to determine by comparing the strength of the fields in the area where the data is stored to see if a read process has been done recently.

I havent seen anything to suggest that the folks looking at this system have done anything this low level or if they just looked at the windows 'date last accessed' and saw that it hadnt been used...which of course is worthless.

But it is plausible to determine if a portion of a hard drive has been read within a certain period of time.
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