In response to the data breach at healthcare insurance provider Anthem last week, New York's Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced today that it will "integrate regular, targeted assessments of cyber security preparedness at insurance companies as part of the department's examination process." The Department also plans to issue "enhanced regulations" to insurance companies based in New York, but has not yet solidified what those enhancements will be.
Encryption and multi-factor authentication may be on that list. Healthcare insurers are already subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), each of which have requirements about privacy and security, but neither of which explicitly require encryption of all personally identifiable information. HIPAA's focus is on medical data, not identity and employment data like that stolen from Anthem.
An Anthem executive confessed to the New York Times Thursday that Anthem had not encrypted the database containing non-medical data, and that it was not required by HIPAA to do so.
The New York DFS today released results of a survey of insurers, outlining some of their cybersecurity practices. In that report, 100 percent of health insurers surveyed said they used encryption for data both in transit and in storage. However, it does not specify the nature or number of files that are encrypted and those that are not.
DFS also discovered that the largest organizations did not necessarily have the best cybersecurity. From the report:
Notably, the Department’s analysis of the insurers surveyed found that a wide array of factors – not just reported assets – affect the sophistication and comprehensiveness of the insurers’ cyber security programs. Those factors include reported assets, transactional frequency, the variety of business lines (insurance and non-insurance) written, and the sales and marketing technologies associated with those lines.
In other words, although it may be expected that the largest insurers would have the most robust and sophisticated cyber defenses, the Department did not necessarily find that to be the case.
DFS also indicated that it was considering the risks of third-party security breaches, stating that it was "exploring stronger measures related to the representations and warranties insurance companies receive from third-party vendors."
Meanwhile, individuals whose personal information was exposed in the Anthem breach are now falling prey to scammers. Anthem warned customers today about scammers contacting breach victims via email or phone, posing as Anthem representatives, and soliciting even more personal data. Anthem stated that there's no evidence that those conducting the scams are the same ones who carried out the breach.Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio