UniCare discovers more members affected by web exposure breach than previously identified

 

On April 2, Sean Doolan of Hinman Straub, lawyers for UniCare, notified the New Hampshire Department of Justice that:

Approximately one year ago, it was discovered that a computer server that contained protected health information (PHI) was not properly secured by a third party vendor for a period of time, which caused the PHI of certain UniCare members to be temporarily accessible via the internet.

The PHI contained member ID numbers (which in some cases included a social security number) and certain pharmacy/medical data that pertained to the member or the member’s dependents enrolled under the member’s health plan. We quickly initiated an assessment and secured the PHI. We implemented additional security measures to ensure that similar incidents do not recur.

We also notified the members who we determined might have been impacted. On December 27, 2007, we discovered that the PHI of additional members might have been accessible via the internet at the time of this incident. UniCare is addressing this issue with the vendor. Upon notification of the loss, UniCare immediately initiated an investigation into the matter. UniCare has no indication at this time that any instances of identity theft related to this situation have
occurred.

A copy of the notification letter being sent out to those newly identified as having been affected was attached to the letter to the DOJ.

Comment:

Was this incident related to the WellPoint breach described by PogoWasRight.org that had been reported to WellPoint by a customer in February 2007? It may well have been, since some files that said UniCare were exposed via Google indexing and caching back then. But WellPoint spokespeople claimed this week that the exposure (only) affected 1350 people — a statistic that PogoWasRight.org questions.

It seems like there will still be much more to be revealed and explained. And now added to the list is why did it take almost a year before UniCare realized that there were more people affected by the web exposure? Did UniCare bring in an outside security firm to investigate and assess the problem when they first became aware of the exposure, or did they just conduct an internal investigation whereby the same people that may have failed to adequately secure the server and files in the first place would be asked to find all of their own mistakes?

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