Officials believe a foreign intelligence may be behind the Anthem health care cyber breach of 2014.
Officials believe a foreign intelligence may be behind the Anthem health care cyber breach of 2014 that resulted in the company’s decision to make $260 million in system changes in order to protect its customers’ data. This is $100 million over the insurance policy Anthem originally held for cyberattacks, and marked a record breaking consumer data breach.
The breach resulted in hackers taking up to 80 million customers’ records, specifically including their social security numbers, birth dates, mailing addresses, street addresses, medical IDs and employment information, including income earned. The company immediately hired Mandiant, a cyber security firm, to help mine through the data and get to the bottom of the attack. The progress of Mandiant’s research was kept confidential. However, Anthem publicly released general information in early February 2015, notifying consumers of the breach via a press release, mail, e-mail, website postings and state regulators, assuring those affected that their banking information, credit card details and medical history was not compromised. It began to offer free credit monitoring for those still skeptical.
The incident resulted in legal woes for Anthem, including multiple class action lawsuits from affected consumers and a particularly damning large consolidated case that was brought to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Anthem is a nationwide insurance provider licensed in all 50 states, and is the second largest provider in the country. Its representatives indicated that the attack was not your ordinary run of the mill breach, and that it was in fact highly sophisticated in nature. Therefore, from the initial stages, Anthem had suspected a foreign government was involved, and had even suggested publicly that Chinese intel was likely to blame. Anthem was commended by the Federal Bureau of Investigations for its swift efforts to inform customers and put a stop to the problem.
After months of investigation, it appeared the cyberattack was largely brushed under the rug in hopes that it would be forgotten or at least the consumers’ confidence in its services had been restored. Anthem is currently in negotiations to acquire insurance provider Cigna Corporation, and membership numbers and earnings went unscathed.
However, on Friday, the status of the investigation was brought to the forefront again as federal officials stated they had located with “high confidence” the source of the insurance providers massive breach and can report with “medium confidence” that a foreign government is to blame. The cautionary words give hope to consumers that the masterminds will eventually be behind bars.
Officials believe the intent behind gathering the data was to build profiles of consumers a foreign government could later target for espionage. However this cannot yet be confirmed. Because the investigation is still ongoing and the feds cannot say for certain whether the intruders are connected to a foreign intelligence, they will not release which agency they believe the attacks originated from or confirm earlier assumptions that the Chinese government is playing a part.