by: Scott MacFarlane Updated:
WASHINGTON - Channel 2 Action News has learned some military veterans may be at risk of identity theft.
Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane found there has been strong reaction after learning the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs computer system has been hacked.
MacFarlane reviewed a congressional report that said eight foreign actors, likely Chinese hackers, have infiltrated the VA's computer network, potentially getting hold of Social Security numbers and other private data of men and women in uniform.
Veteran Marine Jessie Duff said she's scared someone's poised to steal her identity.
"Being a veteran, our data is a little more sensitive. I have health records with them. I have financial data with them," Duff said.
The revelations came during a recent hearing at the U.S. House Veterans Affairs committee. A former security technician for the VA acknowledged millions of veterans don't have their personal information properly encrypted by the VA.
Chinese military are reportedly among the suspected hackers.
"Their long-term objective is to establish a presence in the network and do whatever they need to do," said Jerry Davis, former U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs employee.
Members of the House VA committee repeatedly accused the agency of leaving local vets vulnerable by allowing itself to be hacked.
"I'm concerned anytime veterans' data is put at risk," said Stephen Warren with the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs Office of Technology.
Now, congressional leaders want the VA to watch the credit reports of every vet and close family members.
"The chances are pretty good that the information was removed. Unfortunately we don't know until someone comes up and says my information was used in a nefarious way," said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.
The VA already offers credit monitoring for some vets. Even those who want more sweeping, nationwide protection for service men and women acknowledge they don't how much this likely to be expensive program would cost.
Congress wants the VA to, "hold accountable whoever allowed the VA computer system to be hacked in the first place."
The VA said it's been beefing up training of 98 percent of its staff to better protect veterans' security on computers.
The agency said it is monitoring its system 24/7 and there have been no reports of widespread ID theft from the hackings as of yet.