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Major Security Breach At Second Largest US Medical Provider (Updated)

By - Source: Krebs on security
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Details are coming to light that the second largest medical provider in the U.S., Anthem Inc, has suffered a major data security breech.

Data security breaches are nothing new, but two things stand out about this compromise. One is that the scale of this attack is massive -- potentially up to 65 million Americans could have had their information stolen. This by itself is a major issue.

The other fact that makes this breach stand out is that unlike most generic compromises, the breadth of data taken is potentially unprecedented. Most standard compromises may result in the capture of information about debit and credit cards, and perhaps names, addresses and contact numbers. 

Anthem's breach will not only potentially give the thieves names, addresses and card details, but they could also get such critical and useful information such as next of kin, bank account details, place of employment, job title and similar information. Medical providers will hold much more information than most companies because of the nature of what they do.

A skilled identity thief could use this information to take out many lines of credit on new cards. Identity theft in this form means that the lines of credit wont be noticed for a few weeks, and credit and debit cards won't be seen as compromised. Obviously now that this breach has been exposed, banks and credit agencies will be very aware of the potential damages and take steps to prevent it.

Details of how the compromise occurred are not yet available, but this will have a profound effect on both Anthem and it's users. The one good bit of news, if there is any, is that the compromise only seemed to affect billing systems. There are no allegations or evidence that patient medical data has been stolen.

Those that feel they may have had their information compromised, or wish to find out more, can do so by visiting the page set up by Anthem about the breach. Anthem also noted that anyone affected will be given access to a standard one year credit monitoring service.

Anthem has also engaged security specialists to help clean up the situation, and the FBI is actively involved in trying to determine who took the data. However, any self-respecting identity thief will be long gone and have left nothing behind for the FBI to act upon. The identity of the miscreants is as yet unknown, and may well never be known.

Update, 2/6/15, 3:10pm PST: Less than 24 hours after the Anthem cyber theft broke, affected subscribers may have a new worry. They are being targeted by cyber crooks looking to capture Anthem customers' details for yet more fraudulent activity. Such after-the-breach cyber theft is not uncommon.

The email seen in circulation, whilst not particularly complex, does exhibit some of the traits of spam email, including big calls to action to enter details to get credit protection.

FAKE Anthem emailFAKE Anthem emailThe advice from Anthem is to follow basic computer hygiene rules and don't click on any links directly embedded in the email. Another important point is to use the site specifically setup by Anthem for communication with affected customers. The official site is Note well that affected users would also not be asked to enter any financial or personal information on a web page directly from an email; any time you see that, your hackles should go up.