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Computer Theft Adds Up To $7 Million For Blue Cross Of Tennessee

October break-in nets 57 computers for thieves -- and major headaches for healthcare firm

The theft of 57 computers -- most of them destined to be scrapped -- doesn't sound like big news. But according to a news report, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee is learning just how costly a single break-in can be.

In a story that appeared yesterday in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, officials at Blue Cross of Tennessee offered details on the aftermath of a computer theft -- and a glimpse of the internal costs associated with the cleanup effort.

The break-in, which occurred in October, netted criminals some 57 computers stored in a vacated office building. Most of the computers were no longer in use, awaiting return to the vendor for their ultimate disposal, the report says.

But because the lost hard drives had not yet been erased, Blue Cross of Tennessee is now tasked with finding out what data was contained on them so that employees and customers can be notified of the loss of any personal information. Altogether, the theft might have compromised the records of more than 500,000 Americans, officials told the Times Free Press.

So far, Blue Cross of Tennessee has spent some $7 million on the breach, bringing in as many as 700 employees and contractors to analyze backup files and determine what data might have been lost, according to the report. The company might have to spend "millions more" to finish the job, it says.

"It was like water torture last fall," Blue Cross vice president Ron Harr told the Times Free Press. "Every piece of information that came in was worse."

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