News & Commentary

Anthem Data Breach: What you need to know about the massive hack that may affect 80 million people

CATEGORY: Hack, Privacy

What happened?

Anthem, the second largest health insurance company in the nation, announced that hackers had breached the company’s database containing private health insurance information for 80 million of its customers and employees on February 4, 2015. The company claims that the breach was first discovered on January 29, 2015, although suspicious activity had been reported two days earlier on January 27, 2015.

Anthem reports that its “initial investigation indicates that the member data accessed included names, dates of birth, member ID/ social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and employment information.”

Who is affected?

Although Anthem claims it is still working to identify the specific people who were impacted, it has acknowledged that the following brands and plans were affected:

  • Anthem Blue Cross;
  • Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield;
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia;
  • Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield;
  • Amerigroup;
  • Caremore;
  • Unicare; and
  • Healthlink.

Why did this happen?

Some security professionals have argued that the data breach was made possible by Anthem’s failure to encrypt the highly sensitive data. Encryption is a security measure which scrambles data so that it cannot be read by anyone without the right key. One data security CEO reportedly told the LA Times that “it is irresponsible for businesses not to encrypt the data,” because “we have to assume the thieves are either in the house or are going to break in.”

For its part, Anthem argues that encryption would not have made a difference since the attackers used an administrator’s credentials and bypassed security protocols.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Anthem has promised to send out letters to people who were affected by the breach “in the coming weeks.” But in the meantime, consumers can begin the process of protecting themselves this very moment.

For comprehensive advice as to data breach protection, consumers should check out Identity Theft Resource Center. With that said, a few steps you can consider taking include:

  • Checking your credit reports;
  • Establishing a “secret word” or code with your bank or other financial institutions;
  • Monitoring your childrens’ credit and talking to your children about scams;
  • Only clicking on links from expected and reliable sources;
  • Setting up a “security freeze” on your credit, which prevents people from checking your credit without first obtaining your permission; and
  • Contacting the credit bureaus in order to establish a “fraud alert” on your credit report.

Do you have any legal options?

In addition to protecting yourself by employing the types of safeguards described above, consumers whose data was accessed by hackers may also be entitled to legal relief. Many states have consumer protection statutes which can provide the legal basis for an award of monetary damages and other relief in instances where a consumer’s private data has been hacked.

If you feel your private information may have been comprised as a result of the Anthem Data Breach, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Newsome Melton at (888) 808-5977. We are presently investigating the Anthem Data Breach and will gladly discuss your legal options during a free consultation.  

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About Rich

Newsome Melton is a law firm that represents consumers and families across the country who have been catastrophically injured by defective products. Rich Newsome, the firm’s senior partner, is the immediate Past-President of the Florida Justice Association, is Past-President of the Central Florida Trial Lawyers Association, and is currently on the Executive Committee of the National Trial Lawyers Association. You can send our Firm an email, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.