Insurance company, WellPoint, fined $1.7m over data exposure

WellPoint failed to secure its online application database, which exposed more than 600,000 records

Insurance provider WellPoint has agreed to pay a $1.7 million fine for exposing more than 600,000 personal records online due to weak database security, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) said Thursday.

WellPoint, based in Indianapolis, is one the largest health insurers in the U.S., with more than 100 million customers covered by it and its subsidiaries.

In 2009, WellPoint reported to the federal agency that an online database holding personal and health information for 612,402 individuals was left accessible over the Internet between October 2009 and March 2010. The data included names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and health information.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act requires that organizations which fall under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules must report health-related data breaches, according to HHS.

An HHS investigation found that WellPoint did not have adequate policies and procedures for access to the online application database. WellPoint did not have "technical safeguards" in place to verify people seeking access to the health information held in system, HHS said.

The case should remind HIPPA entities to take care in managing information systems, particularly when changing Web-based applications or portals, HHS said in news release.

HHS advised that starting Sept. 23, the liability for many HIPPA requirements will extend to contractors and subcontractors.

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

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags WellPointsecuritydata breachdata protection

More about Department of HealthTechnology

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place