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Horizon Blue Cross laptops containing personal data on over 800,000 members stolen

By David P. Willis, Asbury Park Press, N.J.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Dec. 07--Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is notifying 839,711 members that two company laptops containing personal information were stolen from its corporate headquarters in Newark just over a month ago.

The unencrypted password-protected laptops, which were cable-locked to employee workstations, were stolen sometimes during the weekend of Nov. 1. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state's largest insurer, said Friday it notified Newark police on Nov. 4 and began an internal investigation.

A review by outside computer forensic experts found the computers may have contained files with differing amounts of member information, such as name, address, member identification number, date of birth, and, in some cases, a Social Security number or clinical information, the insurer said in a statement.

Given how the stolen laptops were configured, Horizon said it was not certain that all of the member information on them is accessible.

"After discovering the theft, we acted quickly to engage law enforcement and notify and protect all members who may have been affected," spokesman Tom Rubino said in a statement.

"Nothing leads us to believe that the computers were stolen for the information they contained or that any member information has been used inappropriately," he said.

Of the approximately 839,711 members being notified, those with Social Security numbers affected will be offered free credit monitoring and identity theft protection, the company said.

Horizon said it continues to work with police to locate the laptops.

To prevent a recurrence, the company is strengthening encryption processes and enhancing its policies, procedures and staff education regarding the security of company property and member information, the insurer said.

David P. Willis: 732-643-4039; dwillis@njpressmedia.com, facebook.com/dpwillis732

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(c)2013 the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.)

Visit the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.) at www.app.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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