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Horizon Policyholders Warned Of Data Breach From Stolen Laptops

Laptops With Sensitive Information Were Taken From Newark Office Last Month
Laptop Computer (credit: clipart.com)

Laptop Computer (credit: clipart.com)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield was warning subscribers of a data breach that could lead to identity theft, after two company laptops were stolen from the Newark office.

The password-protected, unencrypted laptop computers, which were cable-locked to employee workstations, were stolen during the weekend of Nov. 1, the insurance company said.

Horizon said in a news release that Newark police were notified on Nov. 4, and an internal investigation began quickly afterward. Outside computer forensic experts began a detailed review, and confirmed that the laptops contained files with sensitive information.

The information included such name and demographic data as addresses, member identification numbers, dates of birth, and in some cases, Social Security numbers or clinical information, the insurance company said.

Due to the way the laptops were configured, it is not known whether the thieves had access to all the data, Horizon said. Still, the affected policyholders have been notified.

“After discovering the theft, we acted quickly to engage law enforcement and notify and protect all members who may have been affected,” Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield public affairs director Tom Rubino said in a news release. “Nothing leads us to believe that the computers were stolen for the information they contained or that any member information has been used inappropriately.”

A total of approximately 839,711 members were notified, the insurance company said. Members whose Social Security numbers will be offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection, the company said.

Horizon has continued to search with police for the stolen laptops, and has set up safeguards to prevent a similar incident in the future – including tougher policies and stronger encryption processes.

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