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Anthem sustains massive data breach, over 80 million victims affected

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February 5, 2015

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It's reported this morning that hackers have stolen information on over 80 million of Anthem Inc. customers, in a large data breach that is among the biggest in U.S. corporate history.

The data stolen from the big insurance company includes names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses and critical employment information, including income data.

Anthem said there is no evidence that credit card or medical information was compromised. While damage is still being assessed, the compromised database contained up to 80 million customer records.

Formerly known as Wellpoint, Anthem is the second-largest health insurer in the United States. The company operates plans including Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield Amerigroup and HealthLink.

Anthem pledged to individually notify current and former customers if their data has been stolen, and by late Wednesday evening, some members reported receiving e-mails from the insurer informing them of the breach.

Anthem will offer free credit monitoring and identity protection services to affected customers.

"Anthem's own associates' personal information was accessed during this security breach. We join you in your concern and frustration, and I assure you that we are working around the clock to do everything we can to further secure your data," said CEO Joseph Swedish.

To be sure, Anthem said the massive data breach resulted from a "very sophisticated external cyber attack," and that law enforcement agencies were still working to identify the perpetrator (s).

The company has retained Mandiant, a leading cybersecurity firm, to help in the investigation.

The insurer is the latest in a series of several companies to suffer severe data breaches in the recent past.

In 2014, hackers obtained credit card data for over 40 million Target shoppers, as well as personal information -- including names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses -- for 70 million customers.

Records have also been stolen from Neiman Marcus, JP Morgan Chase, Experian, eBay, and Home Depot.

The FBI said that it was aware of the intrusion, and was investigating the matter in detail. The agency also praised Anthem's decision to quickly address the security breach.

"Anthem's initial response in promptly notifying the FBI after observing suspicious network activity is a model for other companies and organizations facing similar circumstances," the FBI said. "Speed matters when notifying law enforcement of a security intrusion performed by hackers."

Source: Anthem Inc.

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