During the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have turned to accessing critical health care and financial services online and on their mobile devices. VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) has security tools to protect Veterans’ personal information online.
To help Veterans be proactive in guarding their privacy, health, and financial information online, VA is offering step-by-step video instructional guides. These video instructional guides are called “Privacy Best Practices for Veterans” and “Authentication Methods for Mobile Applications and VA.gov.”
The two videos demonstrate best practices for online safety, including guidance for securely managing and accessing health care and other benefits information across Android and iOS mobile devices. These guides are available to the public and can be viewed by Veterans and their families as needed.
“We recognize the possible risks faced by Veterans as they seek important coronavirus pandemic-related information, as well as while filing their annual federal tax forms and conducting other critical tasks online,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “There is now a heightened need for Veterans to obtain reliable health information online, and we’re dedicated to providing step-by-step information on how Veterans can limit risk exposure.”
Even prior to COVID-19, Veterans nationwide had reported instances of being targeted by online scammers. According to a 2017 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), nearly 80% of Veterans say they have been targeted by scams due to their service. The online scams can take a variety of shapes, ranging from phishing attempts to solicitations for fraudulent Veteran-focused charities, the AARP researchers found.
Now, with millions of Americans sheltering-in-place in response to COVID-19, Veterans are increasing their use of VA digital and mobile applications to access VA services, benefits, and information at a greater rate. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is reporting sharp increases in appointment scheduling and service delivery via telehealth; additionally, VA platforms like My HealtheVet are experiencing record-high numbers of Veteran users since March 2020.
VA remains committed to proactively empowering Veterans to secure their data online. For more information, visit DigitalVA.
Paul Cunningham is VA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Security, and the Chief Information Security Officer.