Five years after hackers accessed the personal information of 10.6 million individuals, parties to a consolidated class action lawsuit have reached one of the largest healthcare data breach settlements.
Premera Blue Cross has agreed to pay $32 million to resolve the litigation that was filed in United States District Court for the District of Oregon, as well as a three-year commitment for a minimum of $42 million in funding to bolster its information security program.
In May 2014, the health insurer was hit by a cyberattack that compromised the personal information of 10.6 million individuals, including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and protected health information. However, Premera did not discover the data breach until January 2015.
“After several years of hard-fought litigation, we are pleased that individuals affected by this data breach will receive compensation for their losses and identity theft protection going forward,” said Kim Stephens, interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “The settlement also includes extensive and detailed injunctive relief in the form of substantially reformed and improved information security practices, designed to protect the class members’ information from future attacks.”
As part of the settlement, plaintiffs will receive an additional two years of premium credit monitoring and identity protection services, out-of-pocket losses, as well as cash payments to all class members who make a claim.
Further, Premera has agreed to fund six improvements to its information security program, including:
• Encrypting certain personal information
• Strengthening specified data security controls
• Increased network monitoring and logging of monitored activity
• Annual third-party security audits
• Stronger passwords, reduced employee access to sensitive data, and enhanced email protections
• Moving certain data into archived databases with strict access controls
“We are pleased to be putting this litigation behind us, and to be providing additional substantial benefits to individuals whose data was potentially accessed during the cyberattack,” said Mark Gregory, Premera’s executive vice president and CIO. “Premera takes the security of its data and the personal information of its customers seriously and has worked closely with state and federal regulators and their information security experts. The company recently achieved an industry-leading HITRUST certification, demonstrating its ability to identify risks, protect assets, detect attacks, and respond and restore capabilities should the need arise.”
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