Health insurance giant Anthem Inc. has been hit with a data breach which compromised the names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and email addresses of an estimated 80 million customers. Additionally, employee data, including income, has been stolen.
This attack comes on the heels of other high profile, massive breaches at Target (40 million affected) and Home Depot (60 million affected), not to mention the recent theft of significant employee and company data at Sony Pictures.
The Anthem data breach was discovered by an internal team at the insurer and not by third party institutions like banks, which are often the first to notice. This would suggest that the breach was caught early enough to prevent serious, long-term damage to affected customers, provided that accounts are monitored closely for suspicious activity.
Anthem will be contacting customers whose information was compromised and providing free identity theft and credit-monitoring services. Those affected are encouraged to keep a close eye on their accounts and to notify their bank immediately if they see anything out of the ordinary.
Anthem’s Data Breach Response
- Launched site to help customers and explain situation: http://www.anthemfacts.com/
- Social Security numbers, names, street and email address, birth dates stolen
- Attacker unknown at this point
- Medical records, e.g. treatment & diagnosis, not compromised
- Established toll free # for support calls and questions: 1-877-263-7995
As the investigation develops, the cause of the data breach remains unknown, but as Michael Bruemmer, VP at Experian’s Data Breach Resolution group points out, “eight percent of breaches have a root cause in employee negligence or human error[.]” In an overwhelming number of cases, it is an employee who falls for a phishing scam or whose computer becomes infected with malware who starts the chain reaction for an attack like this.
80% of data breaches have a root cause in employee negligence or human error.
Employee and consumer cybersecurity education has never been more important than it is today. Customers turn to their financial institution first when they need help resolving the theft of their information.
There’s a need for financial institutions to be able to provide as much help as possible, not only to alleviate customer fears, but to reduce the bank’s risk if fraud occurs. It can even be done in a way that deepens customer relationships and drives sales. Cybersecurity help and information, as a key part of a content library, can be leveraged as a gateway to customer engagement around your product offerings. Engaged customers are 23% more profitable, according to a Gallup study.