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Millions of Anthem customers alerted to hack

Millions of Anthem customers alerted to hack

Millions of Anthem health insurance customers woke Thursday morning to an e-mail from the company telling them hackers had gained access to the company’s computers and that their names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, addresses and employment data including income might have been stolen. “Anthem will individually notify current and former members whose information has been accessed. We will provide credit monitoring and identity protection free of charge so that those who have been affected can have piece of mind,” Anthem President and CEO Joseph Swedish said in the e-mail.635587150726957162-AP-Earns-Anthem

No credit card information was accessed in the attack, the company said. The breach was first announced late Wednesday. It could affect as many as 80 million current and former customers of the nation’s second-largest health insurance company. “Anthem was the target of a very sophisticated external cyberattack,” Swedish said in a statement posted on a website the company created for information about the incident.

Exactly how many people are affected wasn’t immediately clear. The database that was infiltrated contained records for 80 million people. The company is still investigating exactly how many records were actually stolen but, “at this point we believe it was tens of millions,” said Cindy Wakefield, an Anthem spokeswoman.

If the entire file was taken it would be “the largest health care breach to date,” said Vitor De Souza, a spokesman for Mandiant, the computer security company Anthem has hired to evaluate its systems. Anthem members should be especially wary of criminals trying to “piggyback” onto the hack by using it to launch social engineering attacks to get their information, said Lee Weiner, a security expert with computer security company Rapid7.