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CA Department of Insurance

Investigation of major Anthem cyber breach reveals foreign nation behind breach

News: 2017 Press Release

For Release: January 6, 2017
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Investigation of major Anthem cyber breach reveals foreign nation behind breach
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Insurance released today the examination findings and settlement agreement concerning the cyber security breach of health insurance giant Anthem Inc., which compromised 78.8 million consumers' records. Anthem agreed to make a number of enhancements to its information security systems, and also agreed to provide credit protection to all consumers whose information was compromised. Anthem is paying more than $260 million dollars for security improvements and remedial actions in response to this breach. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones was one of seven insurance commissioners leading the national investigation of the Anthem cyber breach.

"This was one of the largest cyber hacks of an insurance company's customer data," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Insurers have an obligation to make sure consumers' health and financial information is protected. Insurance commissioners required Anthem to take a series of steps to improve its cybersecurity and provide credit protection for consumers affected by the breach. In this case, our examination team concluded with a significant degree of confidence that the cyber attacker was acting on behalf of a foreign government. Insurers and regulators alone cannot stop foreign government assisted cyber attacks. The United States government needs to take steps to prevent and hold foreign governments and other foreign actors accountable for cyber attacks on insurers, much as the President did in response to Russian government sponsored cyber hacking in our recent presidential election. "

The cyber breach was first discovered by Anthem on January 27, 2015. In early February 2015, Anthem and its affiliates announced the company had suffered a major breach, which compromised 78.8 million consumer records, including records of at least 12 million minors.

An investigation by the insurance commissioners' examination team and a separate internal investigation by Mandiant, an information security firm hired by Anthem, revealed the data breach began on February 18, 2014, when a user within one of Anthem's subsidiaries opened a phishing email containing malicious content. Opening the email permitted the download of malicious files to the user's computer and allowed hackers to gain remote access to that computer and at least 90 other systems within the Anthem enterprise, including Anthem's data warehouse.

The lead insurance commissioners employed an examination team composed of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike and Alvarez & Marsal Insurance and Risk Advisory Services, LLC. The team focused its investigation on Anthem's pre-breach response preparedness, the company's response adequacy at the time of the breach, and their post-breach response and corrective actions.

The team found Anthem had taken reasonable measures prior to the data breach to protect its data and employed a remediation plan resulting in a rapid and effective response to the breach once it was discovered. The team noted Anthem's exploitable vulnerabilities, worked with Anthem to develop a plan to address those vulnerabilities, and conducted a penetration test exercise to validate the strength of Anthem's corrective measures. As a result, the team found Anthem's improvements to its cybersecurity protocols and planned improvements were reasonable.

The team determined with a high degree of confidence the identity of the attacker and concluded with a medium degree of confidence that the attacker was acting on behalf of a foreign government. Notably, the exam team also advised that previous attacks associated with this foreign government have not resulted in personal information being transferred to non-state actors.

Within two weeks of discovering the breach and following discussions with the lead states, Anthem hired AllClear ID, a consumer credit protection company, to offer credit protection services to all breach-affected consumers for a two-year period. Additionally, as a result of this multi-state settlement, Anthem has agreed to offer a credit protection solution to all minors who were under age 18 when the security breach occurred. Consumers affected by the breach, including parents of affected minors, are encouraged to visit www.AnthemFacts.com to learn more about the credit monitoring and identity theft services that Anthem agreed to offer to individuals.

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Media Notes:


The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $288 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $394 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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