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 CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intrusionsecuritydata breachPremera Blue Cross

More about FBIFireEye

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 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

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place