RISK: Hackers access Social Security numbers from U.S. health insurer

Hackers may return to install malware

U.S. health insurer Anthem faced a “very sophisticated” cyber attack discovered last week. Hackers accessed names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses, incomes and other personal information, but medical and credit card information wasn’t compromised.

The attack may have been a probe to test Anthem’s security, and hackers may return for more information or to install data-stealing malware, says CEO of cybersecurity firm Eran Barak.

All Anthem’s brands were affected, including Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Amerigroup, as well as Medicare and Medicaid.

Cyber security in health care systems isn’t as advanced as in other industries, says Voltage Security vice-president Mark Bower. Hackers can sell patient records to medical insurance and billing scams.

“That’s the kind of sophistication we have in cybercrime,” Bower says. “We have networks of criminals who can use this data whenever its available based on their skill set.”

Anthem is working with the federal government to figure out the hackers’ identity.

Anthem also experienced cyber attacks in 2008 and 2013.

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