Premera Blue Cross says data breach may affect 11 million customers

The information may have included bank account details and clinical information

As many as 11 million customers may have been affected by a data breach at U.S. health insurance provider Premera Blue Cross, in the second large attack against the health care industry disclosed in the last two months.

The breach, discovered on Jan. 29, may have compromised customer names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, mailing and email addresses, phone numbers and bank account details, as well as claims and clinical information, Premera said on its website.

It hadn't determined yet if that sensitive information was actually removed from its systems, and it said there's "no evidence to date that such data has been used inappropriately." The FBI has been notified, it said.

The type of information that may have been disclosed is valuable for hackers. It can be used for health-care related fraud, such as bogus claims, or it can be used for more general cybercrime, such as bank account fraud and targeted malware attacks.

Premera Blue Cross provides health, stop-loss and disability insurance to 1.8 million people in the Pacific Northwest. Its brands also include Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, Vivacity and Connexion Insurance Solutions.

The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a group of 37 independent companies that provide insurance under that brand name.

Premera's breach comes about six weeks after Anthem, one of the largest U.S. health insurance providers, disclosed a breach that may have affected 78.8 million records after hackers compromised a database.

It's unclear if the breaches are linked. Premera did not reveal details on how the attackers penetrated its network, and company officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The company said the attack started on May 5, 2014 and may have compromised customer information the company has held since 2002, which is why it's notifying 11 million people. The notifications are being sent by postal mail.

Premera said it's not emailing people because of concerns over phishing attacks, which involve spoof emails that try to trick victims into revealing information or visiting dodgy websites.

Affected customers are eligible for two years of free credit monitoring and identify theft protection services, Premera said.

Like many other large companies affected by data breaches, Premera said it has hired Mandiant, the forensic division of computer security company FireEye, to investigate.

Premera said it was taking steps taken to "cleanse its IT system" of issues raised by the attack and strengthening the security of its IT systems.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intrusionPremera Blue Cross

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?