String of big data breaches continues with hack on health insurer Anthem

Over the past 18 months, hackers have struck again and again, with incursions on Target, Staples, JPMorgan Chase, and Sony Pictures, as well as a raft of smaller companies. Now, one of the largest US health insurers, Anthem, says it suffered a breach that exposed Social Security Numbers and other personal information for tens of millions of people, including its CEO.

In all, Anthem said the compromised database included 80 million records related to current and former customers and employees. The intruders accessed names, Social Security numbers, birthdays, addresses, e-mail, income data and other employment information. At this early stage, company officials don't think credit card details and medical information such as insurance claims and test results were taken. Company officials have hired security firm Mandiant to determine how the hackers got in and what information they accessed. The FBI is also investigating.

Anthem operates under a variety of health insurance brands, including Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, and Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The breach was discovered on January 29. The company plans to notify affected customers and employees in the coming weeks. It has also published this list of frequently asked questions and this statement from CEO and President Joseph R. Swedish apologizing for the data theft.

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