Was a foreign government responsible for the Anthem hacking of 80 million members and employees?

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Anthem, one of the largest health insurers in the U.S., compromised the personal details of around 80 million of their members and employees. Anthem disclosed what is dubbed as “the largest data breach in healthcare history” back in 2015.

Now, it has been revealed to the public that a foreign government may have been behind the cyber-breach.

Nature of the breach

The cyber-hackers stole the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, homes addresses, and other personal information of around 80 million current and former Anthem, Blue Cross, and Blue Shield members and employees. When the breach was disclosed, many members and employees reported fraudulent activity on their payment cards and accounts.

Speculations of why it could’ve been the doing of foreign governments

Cybersecurity experts have noted that the data could help a foreign government to build a profile of people they’ve been targeting for surveillance purposes, using the information they retrieved.

Investigators believe with “medium confidence” that the attackers were working with a foreign government, according to a report released by California Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones.

Other cybersecurity experts note that foreign governments seek to retrieve as much personal data as possible from data breaches to identify surveillance targets and to gain an “upper hand”.

As highlighted by Experian in its third annual Data Breach Industry Forecast paper in 2016, they note that, as States continue to move their conflicts and spying efforts to the digital world, there’ll be more instances where corporate and government secrets are uncovered as well as more military operations being hampered. This is likely to increase as conflicts between countries increase.

Big data approach

Though the personal information stolen may not be of any valuable use right now, it may become valuable in the future, according to Erik Rasmussen; cyber practice leader for Kroll, a risk-management firm. This is shown in Anthem’s breach as nations are targeting the U.S.government and companies in a big data approach – retrieving as much information as possible.


The health insurer has invested $260 (£208) million to improve its cybersecurity systems as part of a settlement with insurance regulators in most U.S. states. The insurer is also trying to salvage the irreversible effects that they’ve caused to millions by offering credit protection to consumers whose information was compromised by the breach.

Anthem’s speech

An Anthem spokesperson released a statement saying:

“Anthem takes the security of its information and the personal information of consumers very seriously and is committed to protecting the data of its customers.”

It’s hard to believe that was the case as they allowed more than 80 million of their customers’ and employees’ information to be compromised.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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