Highmark’s statement on the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield security breach.

Highmark is alerting its members that their data may have been caught up in the Excellus breach if they obtained services from BCBS while traveling in another service area than their primary coverage.

Highmark was notified of a data breach involving another large health insurer. We want to ensure that you are also aware of the details. 

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (Excellus BCBS), an insurer with plans throughout New York state, was the target of a sophisticated cyber-attack, which was discovered early last month. Excellus BCBS is working with law enforcement and the FBI to investigate the breach. While the investigation has not yet determined that personal information was removed from Excellus BCBS’s IT system or used inappropriately, the attackers may have obtained personal information on as many as 10 million current and former members. This number includes one million BlueCard holders, a national program that enables members of one Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Plan, like Highmark, to obtain health care services while traveling or living in another Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan’s service area. 

Information potentially breached includes names, birthdays, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, telephone numbers and financial account and claims information. Excellus BCBS believes the information affected may date back to 1993. Due to the volume of information this breach involves, the number of potentially affected Highmark members are not yet known. As soon as Excellus BCBS provides us with this information, we will coordinate efforts to notify our members. Highmark continues to follow this situation closely, and we will be working with Excellus BCBS, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and other authorities and keep you informed of developments. 

For individuals involved in this breach, Excellus BCBS will be providing two years of free identity theft protection services through Kroll, a global leader in risk mitigation and response solutions, including credit monitoring powered by Trans Union. A dedicated toll-free call center has also been set up for members and other affected individuals (1-877-589-3331). 

If you have specific questions about Excellus BCBS and their response to this breach, we refer you to their data breach website for more information. 

The facts indicate that this cyber-attack is similar to those experienced earlier this year by other health insurers, which implicated Highmark members through the BlueCard system. It is important to note that, as with the others, Highmark’s IT systems were not jeopardized by this incident. 

Highmark takes a defense-in-depth approach to protecting our members’ confidential information by implementing preventive, detective and responsive security controls. In light of an evolving threat landscape, we frequently assess and enhance the following to maintain an effective security program: skill sets of Highmark’s security professionals, effectiveness of processes and assurance levels of technologies. We work closely with leading security vendors, other organizations in our industry and various government organizations to stay familiar with the ever-changing tools and tactics of attackers and how best to defend our members’ confidential information against them. Highmark also has enhanced security requirements for third parties with which we share member information.

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