In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, senior lawmakers from tech companies and organizations have urged the Department of Justice to investigate the data breach at the Veterans Affairs Department.
The letter, which was obtained by The Hill, came after House Republicans this week sent a letter seeking information about the breach.
The letter was also sent to VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who was the chief technology officer for the department from March to October, and to Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, who has been in charge of the VA since October, according to the letter.
The companies called on the department to “immediately conduct a thorough review of this incident” and investigate the security of the data, according the letter, sent on Thursday.
The VA has since confirmed the breach occurred, according.
“The recent data breach exposes vulnerable road users to cyberthreats, risks of violence, sexual assault, and other harms, and creates new challenges for veterans, their families, and communities,” the letter said.
“This breach also exposes vulnerable veterans to increased risk of sexual assault and harassment.
This is not a time to let our leaders and their agencies down, or let our veterans down.
We demand swift action to address these concerns, and ensure that these data breaches do not happen again.”
The companies, which include Amazon, Twitter, and Google, wrote in the letter that the data breaches have caused veterans to question whether the VA was being transparent about security breaches and whether the department was protecting them.
“While there are some who believe that we should be doing everything possible to protect our veterans and veterans’ families from cyberthreat risks, the data security breaches have made it difficult for VA employees and other officials to communicate these concerns to the VA leadership,” the companies wrote.
“We encourage you to conduct a review of your current and future cybersecurity posture, including any steps you are taking to improve the security posture for your employees and VA contractors, and make recommendations for action.
We also call on you to address the cyber threats to VA employees, contractors, veterans, and the broader American public.”
The letter came in response to a request from House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and other committee members on Wednesday.
It comes as House lawmakers continue to call for the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the breach at VA.
The VA said in a statement that it is committed to cybersecurity.”VA is committed, under the leadership of Secretary Gibson and Deputy Secretary Shulkins, to ensuring the highest level of cyber security for all employees and contractors in the VA,” the VA said.
“We are aware of the Department’s investigation into the incident and are confident that we will prevail.”
A VA spokesperson also confirmed the department is taking steps to ensure veterans are not vulnerable to cyberattacks.
The House of Representatives, which is investigating the VA data breach, has also called for an independent investigation.
The House committee is investigating VA for the breach, which it said occurred in late October.
The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is also investigating the incident, which also took place in late September.