Horizon BCBS notifying 840,000 members after laptops stolen with personal data (update 1)

Ed Beeson reports:

Nearly 840,000 members of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield are being notified that their personal information may have been contained on a pair of laptops that were stolen from the insurer’s Newark headquarters last month.

The stolen laptops were password-protected, but had unencrypted data, Horizon said in a statement today. A subsequent investigation determined that the computers may have contained files with member information, including names, addresses, dates of birth and, in some instances, Social Security numbers and limited clinical information, the insurer said.

Read more on NJ.com.

Horizon BCBS issued the following statement, linked from its home page:

Notice to Members Regarding Missing Laptops
On Monday, November 4, 2013, Horizon BCBSNJ learned that two password-protected, unencrypted laptop computers that were cable-locked to employee workstations were stolen from our Newark headquarters over the weekend of November 1, 2013. We immediately notified the Newark Police Department and began a thorough internal investigation to determine what information was contained on the laptops.

After a detailed review with outside computer forensic experts, we have confirmed that the laptops may have contained files with differing amounts of member information, including name and demographic information (e.g., address, date of birth, Horizon BCBSNJ identification number), and in some instances, a Social Security number and/or limited clinical information. Due to the way the stolen laptops were configured, we are not certain that all of the member information contained on the laptops is accessible. We have been working with law enforcement, but to date, have been unable to locate the laptops.

We have no reason to believe that the laptops were stolen for the information they contained or that the information has been accessed or used in any way. However, in an abundance of caution, we began sending letters to affected members on December 6, 2013.

Horizon BCBSNJ has also established a dedicated call center for members to contact with any questions. If you believe you are affected but have not received a letter by December 20, 2013, please call 877-237-9502 Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time (closed on U.S. observed holidays), and provide the following ten digit reference number 2156112613 when prompted.

We deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause. Horizon BCBSNJ is committed to protecting your information. To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, we are strengthening our encryption processes and enhancing our policies, procedures and staff education regarding the safeguarding of company property and member information.

Update 1: Horizon’s breach notification letter template is already up on California’s breach site.

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  1. Anonymous - December 13, 2013

    Why is this personal information even on laptops and desktops? Ever hear of a central server(s) that contains all the data, and that server(s) is in a heavily locked room and the data is encrypted? A password protected laptop cabled to a desk is laughable except the damage this can cause.

    This happened to Horizon BCBS 5 years ago, a laptop was stolen with 300,000 patients info on it. And that laptop was cabled down and password protected but not encrypted. Sound familiar? their security is no better than on my personal laptop. And nothing was changed to prevent this from happening again. So when they say they will change how this data is stored, I don’t believe it. BCBS should fire Barney Fife, their head of security. Hell, Bam Bam could have done a better job.

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