Attorney General Says Health Net Security Breach Concerns Worsen After Report Reveals Breach Was Likely Theft

The Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, has issued a statement about his intensified concerns about the Health Net breach:

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he is deeply troubled by an investigative report on the Health Net security breach that acknowledges a missing disk drive containing private financial and health information on hundreds of thousands of citizens was likely stolen.

Blumenthal is seeking more details from Health Net about its massive security breach, as well as details about two laptops that were also apparently stolen from Health Net’s Shelton office.

Blumenthal is also requesting federal criminal authorities to investigate this potential theft, which could have national ramifications.

“An independent investigative report shreds Health Net’s sanitized story — revealing that this severe security breach was most likely a theft, and that two laptops were also stolen from Health Net’s facility at virtually the same time,” Blumenthal said. “This report dramatizes Health Net’s unconscionable delay in notifying law enforcement and its customers about this breach.

“These alarming revelations require immediate investigation by federal criminal authorities as well as intensified state efforts. This unprecedented breach is a privacy breach perfect storm demanding heightened scrutiny because it involves sensitive financial and health information on thousands of Health Net consumers.

“Health Net’s account of this breach raises more questions than it answers — still failing to explain a six-month delay in identifying and notifying individuals whose private information was compromised.”

The likelihood that the drive was stolen should have raised alarms that sensitive information could be exploited for criminal purposes, and prompted a rapid response and timely disclosures both to affected members and law enforcement.

In a second letter to Health Net officials, Blumenthal said there are significant inconsistencies between Health Net’s response to his office and an independent report by Kroll, a security company Health Net hired to assess the loss of the missing disk drive. Blumenthal has asked Health Net for more details and requested a meeting.

“Health Net’s assessment of the cause of the drive’s disappearance is heavily at odds with conclusions reached by Kroll,” Blumenthal said. “The most glaring inconsistencies are Health Net’s explanations for its delay in reporting the data breach, its characterization of the likely cause of that data breach, and its assessment of the accessibility level of the data that was contained on the missing disk drive.

“Health Net has emphasized its inability to promptly access data on the disk to indentify and notify those whose information was compromised, and offered assurances that the data could not be viewed without special software. These claims contradict Health Net’s own private security firm, which claims the data could be easily accessed through common commercially available software — and indicating another Health Net office in Rancho Cordova may have had a copy of the compromised information on hand to identify.

“Health Net has gone out of its way to dismiss and downplay this serious security breach when it should have been focusing on notifying and protecting people who may be at risk of financial fraud or having health information leaked.”

Blumenthal has requested a meeting with Health Net staff and is seeking additional details, including:

  • Why did Health net fail to assess the information contained on the missing drive by communicating with its Rancho Cordova office and assessing the information it had successfully copied from the drive onto its EXP server?
  • Why was there an eight-day delay in notifying the Health Net Privacy Officer after the drive was discovered to be missing?
  • Were the IBM and other technical consultants retained under a “business associate” agreement as the term is defined under HIPAA?
  • Was any protected health or financial information contained on the stolen laptops?
  • How many separate Connecticut individuals’ protected health information was on the missing drive?

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