Anthem hit by computer hackers; millions of customers could be affected

The company said information the hackers gained access to included names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, and street addresses of people who are currently covered or have had coverage in the past.

Health insurer Anthem said hackers infiltrated its computer network and gained access to a host of personal information for customers and employees, including CEO Joseph Swedish.

The nation's second-largest health insurer said it was contacting customers affected by the "very sophisticated" cyberattack and was working to figure out how many people were affected.

The company said information the hackers gained access to included names, birthdates, email address, employment details, Social Security numbers, incomes and street addresses of people who are currently covered or have had coverage in the past.

The Indianapolis-based insurer said credit card information wasn't compromised, and it has yet to find evidence that medical information such as insurance claims and test results was targeted or obtained.

Anthem Inc., which recently changed its name from WellPoint, runs Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in more than a dozen states, including California, New York and Ohio. It covers more than 37 million people.

The insurer said all of its product lines were affected. It sells mainly private individual and group health insurance, plans on the health care overhaul's public insurance exchanges and Medicare and Medicaid coverage. It also offers life insurance and dental and vision coverage.

Affected brands include Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Amerigroup.

Anthem said Wednesday evening that the FBI is investigating and the company has hired Internet security company Mandiant to improve its network defenses. The insurer will provide free credit monitoring and identity protection services.

The FBI urged Anthem customers contacted by the insurer to report suspected instances of identity theft.

In 2013, the insurer agreed to pay $1.7 million to resolve allegations it left the information of more than 612,000 members available online because of inadequate safeguards. The US Department of Health and Human Services said that security weaknesses in an online application database left names, birthdates, addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, and health data accessible to unauthorized users.

The Health and Human Services Department said then that the insurer didn't have adequate policies for authorizing access to the database, didn't perform a needed technical evaluation after a software upgrade, and did not have technical safeguards to verify that the people or entities seeking access were authorized to view the information in the database.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.