The Department of Veterans Affairs and the FBI aren't saying much about how or where they recovered the laptop and its external hard drive, but they did say the database containing 26.5 million personnel identities was intact and hadn't been accessed.
The FBI said its preliminary examination of the hardware "has determined that the data base remains intact and has not been accessed since it was stolen," the Associated Press reported. The FBI is planning additional forensics tests.
The computer was turned in by an unidentified person on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the law enforcement agency, which has been investigating the data loss since it was made public in mid-May, said that the person had not been charged and was not a suspect in the May 3 burglary of a Veterans Affairs data analyst's home. The analyst had taken home the hardware and the database containing the personal records to work on a project after hours.
The FBI and VA had posted a $50,000 reward for the return of the computer and hard drive, but it's unknown if the person who brought in the gear will be eligible for the bounty.
The well-publicized theft led to hearings in the Senate and House, the dismissal of at least one manager in Veterans Affairs, and a recent memo from the White House's Office of Management and Budget with new security recommendations for all federal agencies.
In late May, VA Inspector General George Opfer told a joint Congressional hearing that the analyst had been taking home data for years. Recent documents acquired by the Associated Press showed that the analyst had received permission in 2002 to work with massive numbers of records that included Social Security numbers, and was allowed to take data off VA premises.
The analyst, still unnamed, is currently contesting his dismissal from the agency.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Infographic: The State of DevOps in 2017Is DevOps helping organizations reduce costs and time-to-market for software releases? What's getting in the way of DevOps adoption? Find out in this InformationWeek and Interop ITX infographic on the state of DevOps in 2017.
IT Strategies to Conquer the CloudChances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.