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  • Hack of Anthem Member Data Affects 80 Million Records

    In what is being described as the largest information theft from a health care company to date, a database containing 80 million records of current or former Anthem customers has been breached. The information accessed from the nation's third-largest large insurance company contained names, Social Security numbers, contact information, employment information, and income data.

    Stories in the New York Times, Reuters, and other media outlets report that Anthem became aware of the breach on January 29. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now working with the company to track down the individuals behind the theft.

    In an open letter to members on the Anthem website, CEO Joseph R. Swedish writes that while the breaches were sizable, "based on what we know now, there is no evidence that credit card or medical information, such as claims, test results, or diagnostic codes were targeted or compromised." Swedish is among the individuals whose records were accessed.

    The letter also states that Anthem will notify all individuals whose records have been accessed, and will provide "credit monitoring and identify protection services free of charge so that those who have affected can have peace of mind."

    While involving the most records to date, the Anthem breach is not the first large-scale theft of data related to health care. As of June, 2014, in the past 5 years there were a total of 1,026 breaches that affected 500 or more individuals, and another 116,000 that have affected fewer than 500. The larger-scale breaches are posted on a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) webpage. In June, HHS estimated that breaches affected 31.7 million people in the US, or 1 in 10 Americans.

    Until the Anthem breach, the largest recorded cyber-attack on a health care operation affected 4.5 million patients associated with Community Health Systems, a company that owns, operates, and leases hospitals. That theft was discovered in August 2014.

    Anthem operates under brands that include Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare, Healthlink, and DeCare.

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