Insurer warns of scam after huge data breach

Health insurer Anthem on Friday warned customers about an e-mail scam targeting former and current members whose personal information was suspected to have been breached.

The No. 2 U.S. health insurer said Wednesday that hackers breached its computer system containing data on up to 80 million people.

Anthem announced the warning about the e-mail scam in a statement, saying they purport to come from Anthem and ask recipients to click on a link to obtain credit monitoring. Anthem advised recipients not to click on links or provide any information on any Web site.

The company said it will contact current and former members about the attack only via mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. It is not calling members regarding the breach and is not asking for credit card information or Social Security numbers over the phone.

The insurer acknowledged that data accessed by hackers had not been encrypted, as is the normal practice at many companies.

“When the data is moved in and out of the warehouse, it is encrypted. But when it sits in the warehouse, it’s not encrypted,” Anthem spokeswoman Cindy Wakefield said.

“How we managed our data in the warehouse has been appropriate,” Wakefield said. “No one has pointed a finger and said you did this wrong and this is why this happened.”

Several states are investigating the breach. “The level of protection of this highly sensitive information is very much a focus of our investigation,” said Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.

— Reuters

Senators ask probe of Verizon supercookies

Democratic senators on Friday called on federal regulators to investigate Verizon Wireless for secretly inserting unique tracking codes into the Web traffic of its 100 million customers.

Data-privacy experts have accused the country’s biggest mobile provider of violating consumers’ privacy by using “supercookies,” an identifying string of letters and numbers attached to each site visited on a person’s mobile device.

“This whole supercookie business raises the specter of corporations being able to peek into the habits of Americans without their knowledge or consent,” Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement.

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Debra Lewis said the company “takes our customers’ privacy seriously” and that it planned to respond to Nelson’s letter to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission. The company had announced last week that it would give customers the chance to opt out of the tracking program.

The FCC and FTC did not respond to questions about whether they would conduct a review.

In the letters to regulators, Nelson said he wants to know whether Verizon Wireless violated any laws and suggested that new privacy legislation might be needed. Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (Mass.) also signed the letters.

— Associated Press

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