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Cyberattack on Health Insurer CareFirst Affects 1.1M Members

May 20, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, a Washington, D.C.-based health insurer, has acknowledged a cyberattack on its company where approximately 1.1 million current and former members had their data compromised.

In a company statement, CareFirst said that the attackers gained limited, unauthorized access to a single CareFirst database, which was discovered as part of the company’s IT security efforts in the wake of recent cyberattacks on health insurers. Earlier this year, Anthem, a large Indianapolis-based payer, was attacked, exposing the personal data of approximately 80 million customers.

After review, it was determined that in June 2014 cyberattackers gained access to a single database in which CareFirst stores data that members and other individuals enter to access CareFirst’s websites and online services. Cybersecurity firm Mandiant, hired by CareFirst, completed its review and found no indication of any other prior or subsequent attack or evidence that other personal information was accessed.

Evidence suggests the attackers could have potentially acquired member-created user names created by individuals to access CareFirst’s website, as well as members’ names, birth dates, email addresses and subscriber identification numbers. However, CareFirst user names must be used in conjunction with a member-created password to gain access to underlying member data through CareFirst’s website. The database in question did not include these passwords because they are fully encrypted and stored in a separate system as a safeguard against such attacks. The database accessed by attackers contained no member Social Security numbers, medical claims, employment, credit card, or financial information, the statement said.

 “We deeply regret the concern this attack may cause”, CareFirst President and CEO Chet Burrell, said in the statement. “We are making sure those affected understand the extent of the attack—and what information was and was not affected. Even though the information in question would be of limited use to an attacker, we want to protect our members from any potential use of their information and will be offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for those affected for two years.”

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