Stolen VA Laptop Recovered

The stolen laptop computer that contains personal information about millions of U.S. veterans and active duty military personnel has been recovered, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson announced Thursday morning.

Nicholson said an investigation continued to determine whether any of the data stored on the computer’s hard drive was compromised.

“There is reason, however, to be optimistic,” Nicholson said.

The computer was taken during a break-in at the home of a VA analyst, putting 26.5 million U.S. veterans and as many as 2.2 million active duty military personnel at risk of identity theft.

Nicholson was scheduled to testify Thursday before a House committee investigating the government's largest security breach involving Social Security numbers.

He made the announcement before the start of the hearing and said there have been no reports of identity theft since the laptop was taken.

Meanwhile The Associated Press reports that the Veterans Affairs worker faulted for losing the data had permission to access millions of Social Security numbers on a laptop from home.

Documents obtained by AP raise questions as to whether top officials condoned a practice that led to the data theft.

According to the documents, the data analyst had approval as early as 2002 to use special software at home designed to manipulate large amounts of data.