By Kay Lazar
Boston Globe Staff
October 3, 2009
The largest health insurer in Massachusetts is warning roughly 39,000
physicians and other health care providers in the state that personal
information, including Social Security numbers, may have been
compromised after a laptop containing the data was stolen in August from
an employee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's national
headquarters in Chicago.
The breach involves "tens of thousands" of physicians nationwide,
although the precise number is unclear, according to a national Blue
Cross-Blue Shield spokesman. Thirty-nine affiliates feed information
about providers into a database maintained by the association's national
Massachusetts doctors were not notified by letter until yesterday,
because state Blue Cross-Blue Shield officials said they did not at
first know what kind of data were on the stolen laptop. They said the
data did not contain any information about patients or personal health
"It took some time to figure out what type of data was on the laptop,"
said Tara Murray, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts
spokeswoman. "There is no reason to be believe the data has been used to
steal people's identity, but we are just being cautious . . . to notify
them and offering free credit monitoring."
Jeff Smokler, national Blue Cross-Blue Shield spokesman, said the
insurance giant - roughly 90 percent of physicians nationwide are in its
network - encrypts all of its information on company computers, but an
employee who was authorized to have the information violated company
rules by downloading an unencrypted version onto a personal laptop. The
laptop was stolen after the employee left headquarters with it.
Did a friend send you this? From now on, be the
first to find out! Subscribe to InfoSec News