Commentary: Is WellPoint blaming others for breach?

Steve Ragan has a statement from WellPoint that he posted on Tech Herald. While the company doesn’t deny that the actual cause of the exposure was a faulty security update, from there, it reads as if they are pointing fingers everywhere but at themselves. WellPoint mentions the role of the plaintiff’s attorney(s):

The reason that WellPoint sent 470,000 letters, 230,000 of them to Anthem customers in California, was that the information could have been accessed by anyone. Internal investigations show that there was access, but not from a source one would expect.

“The vast majority of such manipulation and the resulting unauthorized access occurred at the hands of certain attorneys (representing an applicant). We believe that this manipulation was conducted to support a class action against Anthem Blue Cross and/or its parent company – over the very breach being committed,” the WellPoint statement added.

“We have requested both by letter and in court filings that the attorneys return all information improperly obtained from the individual application system and as a result, that information has been delivered to a court approved custodian who will ensure its security.”

Okay, but why, between October and March, did neither the contractor nor the company uncover the faulty security through their own security tests and audits?

And is this the same contractor that was involved in the faulty server security back in the 2007-2008 breach reported previously on PogoWasRight.org? Remember that in that case, although WellPoint notified 128,000 customers, PogoWasRight.org found that well over 1 million records had been exposed for well over a year, even after their contractor had supposedly corrected the security problem back in February 2007 after a customer pointed out the problem to them. It’s unknown whether HHS/OCR ever investigated WellPoint over that incident, but given that this is the second exposure breach due to faulty security in the past few years, it would be appropriate for them to at least investigate. And if this should turn out to be the same contractor, well, “Fool me once….”

For now, WellPoint is looking into their legal options “…with respect to the data, the impact – if any – on our members, and the remediation costs incurred as a result of these actions.”

“these actions?” Which actions? Is WellPoint suggesting that they might try to recover breach notification costs from the attorneys? Or are they referring to the contractor who did the faulty work? How do you read that last statement?

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