RealTime IT News

Laptop Heist Exposes Doctors' Personal Data

More than 10,000 physicians' and dentists' personal data was exposed last week in New Hampshire after an employee at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield transferred the health care providers' Social Security numbers and other data to a personal laptop that was later stolen.

Anthem spokesman Christopher Dugan said the security breach took place at the national level and the files did not include any patients' personal data.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said the employees' ill-fated decision to transfer the sensitive information to a personal laptop violated the insurer's security policies.

Just last week, more than 33,000 patients receiving care from a Daytona Beach, Fla. medical center were notified that their data may have been compromised when a laptop was stolen from an employee's car.

New Hampshire is one of 43 states that require companies and organizations to notify people when their personal or financial information is accidentally or deliberately compromised.

Anthem officials said it will provide free credit-monitoring services to all the affected physicians and dentists for a year.

It's not been the best of months for the insurer.

On Oct. 5, Blue Cross warned another 39,000 doctors that a yet another laptop stolen from the company's Chicago headquarters could have potentially exposed an assortment of personal information including Social Security numbers and tax identification numbers.

A Ponemon Institute by Traverse City, Mich.-based data security researcher Ponemon Institute estimates that more than 12,000 laptops are stolen or lost at airports alone each week.

It also found that the average large company has 640 laptops, 1,985 USB memory sticks, 1,075 smart phones and 1,324 other various data devices stolen or lost each year -- ;a total of 800,000 data-sensitive memory devices a year.