Anthem hack compromises millions of identities - KCTV5 News

Anthem hack compromises millions of identities

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This Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 file photo shows the Anthem logo at the company's corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File) This Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 file photo shows the Anthem logo at the company's corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield has suffered what could be one of the largest hacks ever. The company says a cyber attack breached a database containing the information of about 80 million customers and employees.

Mark Carney, the vice president of strategic programs at Firemon, says the hack is just as scary as it seems. Firemon is a worldwide cyber security firm headquartered in Overland Park, KS.

“Healthcare is not new to hacking incidents,” Carney said. “Forty-two percent of breaches from last year were from the medical or health care industry.”

This one, however, takes it to a new level.

“I think it's going to be a wake-up call for the health industry,” Carney said, “... just because of the size.”

Anthem says the hackers got names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers - essentially all you need to steal an identity. The company says hackers did not get personal health information.

On a web page dedicated to this breach, the company's President and CEO Joseph R. Swedish wrote, “Anthems' own associates' personal information - including my own - was accessed during this security breach. We join you in your concern and frustration, and I assure you that we are working around the clock to do everything we can to further secure your data.”

Carney says the around-the-clock need for security is part of the challenge that leaves corporations a step behind hackers.

“The cyber criminals have a lot of resources behind them and also the time to go and target these organizations that really, quite honestly, from a budget perspective and an executive awareness perspective, need to continue to raise their funding,” Carney said.

The biggest hurdle, he says, involves hackers funded by nation-states.

“The amount of money that's behind it, the amount of resources,” Carney said, “is truly more than a security division would have in a corporation.”

Anthem has offices in 14 states: California, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, New York, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Kentucky, Nevada and Ohio.

The good news is that the Anthem attacks likely will not affect those using Blue Cross Blue Shield in the Kansas City metro area.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, also known as Blue KC, covers 30 Missouri counties closest to the Kansas City metro as well as Wyandotte and Johnson Counties in Kansas. A spokesperson with Blue KC explained that they are an independent licensee of Blue Cross Blue Shield, separate from Anthem.

The areas in Missouri covered by Anthem include the Springfield area, the Columbia area and the St. Louis area.

Still, Blue KC sent out of the following statement:

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) is working closely with Anthem to identify any Blue KC members who may have been impacted. Affected members will be notified and offered credit monitoring and identity protection services free of charge."

"All Blue members are encouraged to visit or call 1-877-263-7995 for the most up-to-date information."

"We take the security and privacy of our members very seriously. Anthem and Blue KC are independent companies. They are both independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association."

Carney says the sad truth is that hackers, especially nation-state hackers, have the edge, not just because of time and money, but also because of access to the kinds of skills needed to better protect them.

“There is a limitation of skilled employees in the marketplace,” Carney said. “It's a very new industry... We're seeing a lot of increase in universities and other programs to increase that awareness and training.”

The best thing consumers can do is change passwords and keep a close eye on credit scores and bank statements. 

One other option is to place a fraud alert with one of the big credit reporting agencies, but this can impact your ability to apply for lines of credit yourself. The Federal Trade Commission offers instructions on how to place a fraud alert.

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