Hack of former DST business exposes Blue Cross Blue Shield member info

This may turn out to be one of the biggest healthcare sector breaches of the year.

Kansas City Business Journals reports:

Newkirk Products Inc. reported a security breach of personal information for health insurance ID cards, including those for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

However, Newkirk said in a Friday release, the breach did not gain access to Social Security numbers or information related to banking or credit cards, medical history or claims.

[…]

Note that this incident affected multiple BCBS entities, as Newkirk’s press release makes clear (over 230,000 members of BCBS Western New York were reportedly affected, and that’s just one of the affected BCBS units):

ALBANY, N.Y.Aug. 5, 2016  — Newkirk Products, Inc. (“Newkirk”) today announced a cyber security incident involving unauthorized access to a server containing certain personal information.  Newkirk is a service provider that issues healthcare ID cards for health insurance plans including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, HealthNow New York Inc., BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, BlueShield of Northeastern New York, and Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP), and, through Newkirk’s relationship as a service provider to DST Health Solutions, Inc., Gateway Health Plan, Highmark Health Options, West Virginia Family Health, Johns Hopkins Employer Health Programs, Inc., Priority Partners Managed Care Organization and Uniformed Services Family Health Plan.

No health plans’ systems were accessed or affected in any way.

The data potentially subject to unauthorized access varies by plan but includes some combination of: the member’s name, mailing address, type of plan, member and group ID number, names of dependents enrolled in the plan, primary care provider, and in some cases, date of birth, premium invoice information and Medicaid ID number.  The server did not contain Social Security numbers, banking or credit card information, medical information or any insurance claims information.

On July 6, 2016, Newkirk discovered that a server containing member information was accessed without authorization.  Newkirk shut down the server, started an investigation into the incident and hired a third party forensic investigator to determine the extent of the unauthorized access and whether the personal information of its clients’ members may have been accessed.  Newkirk also notified federal law enforcement.  While the forensic investigation is ongoing, it appears that the unauthorized access first occurred  on May 21, 2016.  Although the information contained on the server may have been accessed, Newkirk has no evidence to date that such data has been used inappropriately.

Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. acquired Newkirk on July 1, 2016 from DST Systems, Inc. (“DST”).  DST Health Solutions, Inc. is a subsidiary of DST.  The Broadridge network was not compromised, as the Newkirk network has not been integrated into Broadridge.  Furthermore, there is no evidence at this time that any other Newkirk or DST service or infrastructure has been impacted by this incident.

Letters to those impacted by the incident are being mailed.  These letters include an explanation of the incident, an offer of two years of free identity protection and restoration services and information about additional ways impacted individuals can protect themselves.

BCBS of Kansas City issued the following statement:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) has been notified that Newkirk Products, Inc. (Newkirk), a service provider responsible for printing and mailing Blue KC member ID cards, experienced a data security incident that may affect members’ personal information.

The information potentially accessed includes member name, mailing address, type of health plan, member and group ID number, and other information found on member ID cards such as, in some cases, primary care provider.

Social Security numbers, dates of birth, banking or credit card information, medical information or any insurance claims information were not impacted by this incident.

Newkirk is working with federal law enforcement and a third-party forensic expert to investigate the incident. Although the information contained on the server may have been accessed, Newkirk has no evidence to date that such data has been used inappropriately.

As a precautionary measure, Blue KC placed a hold on producing and mailing new member ID cards and is providing temporary cards to new and existing groups and members upon request. Please contact Blue KC customer service at 1-844-583-4173 for assistance.

Newkirk is offering preventive steps members can take to protect their personal information, including two years of complimentary identity protection and restoration services. Visit www.newkirkproductsfacts.com for more information.

Unless affected individuals request a call back from the incident-specific call center, Blue KC and Newkirk will ONLY communicate with potentially affected members via mail or through member-initiated calls to the AllClear ID dedicated call center. Members should not respond to any emails or other written correspondence requesting personal information in connection with this incident. In addition, if members did not request a call back at the call center, they should not respond to any calls requesting personal information in connection with the incident.

Update: It looks like the total number affected will be about 3.3 million.

About the author: Dissent