JUNEAU—Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, the largest health care insurer in Alaska, announced a nationwide cybersecurity breach affecting 11 million people, including 700,000 Alaskans. Among those affected are approximately 80,000 current and former State of Alaska employees. Premera has begun mailing letters to affected individuals and is providing two years of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to those affected.
The Walker administration was notified on Tues., March 17, 2015, of the breach, which occurred May 5, 2014.
Governor Bill Walker urged all Alaskans to enroll in the credit monitoring and identity theft products offered by Premera.
“An IT security breach is a threat that has the potential to have a huge impact,” said Governor Walker, “I have instructed State of Alaska departments to review their cybersecurity procedures and those of the companies we do business with to see what we can do to protect Alaskans.”
Premera has established a website (www.premeraupdate.com) to provide the most up-to-date information and links to the credit monitoring and identity theft protection services being offered to anyone affected by the incident. Premera has also established a dedicated call center for questions related to the incident. The data compromised in the Premera breach dates back to 2002 and includes the names, dates of birth, addresses, social security numbers, email addresses, health identification numbers, health information and, in limited circumstances, bank account information. Individuals who believe they are affected by this cyberattack but who have not received a letter by April 20, 2015 are encouraged to call the number listed on the Premera website.
This announcement comes a few weeks after the announcement of a similar attack on Anthem, another provider of medical insurance that impacted approximately 34,000 Alaskans.
The Alaska Division of Insurance has been in contact with its counterparts in the State of Washington and the State of Oregon where other Premera members were affected. The division will continue to monitor the situation and will work to ensure affected consumers have access to important resources. As part of its investigation, Premera notified the FBI and also worked closely with Mandiant, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the incident and to remove the infection created by the attack.
While Premera’s investigation has not determined that any data was removed from Premera’s systems, and there is no evidence to date that the data has been used inappropriately, all Alaskans are encouraged to take advantage of the free credit monitoring and identity theft protection offered by Premera. You can visit Premera’s dedicated website at www.premeraupdate.com for instructions on how to enroll.