It’s happened again. This time, the target was Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. More precisely, it was the insurer’s more than 80 million customers nationwide that have been violated by hackers. This marks the latest in a long line of data breaches that have companies large and small scrambling to secure their own data and their customers private information. When events like this occur, reporters turn to experts to help sort through the facts and search for answers.
During this most recent incident, two ECPI University faculty members weighed in. In its article, Millions in Virginia Potentially Affected by Anthem Data Breach, the Daily Press sought out the expertise of Dr. Ahmad Al-Omari, Dean of Network Security Faculty at ECPI University’s Newport News campus. He says that such cyber-attacks are likely to increase as hostile governments use them as a way to hurt America economically. "I'm sure it's an external attack," he told reporter Prue Salasky. "Health care companies are the least secure. They have enhanced security, but they left it late, they were not designed from the beginning. They have a long way to go." Dr. Al-Omari says it is vital that the U.S. foster greater cooperation and information sharing between the government and private companies to ward off future attacks.
In its coverage of the Anthem hack, the Virginian-Pilot, the largest newspaper in the state, consulted Dr. Mark Pardue, Computer and Information Science Department Head at ECPI University’s Virginia Beach campus. Not just an expert, Dr. Pardue is also a victim as his personal information was stored in Anthem’s database. On one hand, Dr. Pardue says the company acted quickly which he says is the best thing to do, adding: "A lot of companies don't announce it because they're embarrassed." Still, he is advising that people monitor their credit reports, financial accounts, and beware of any suspicious emails.
For Dr. Pardue, these types of incidents provide teachable moments. "We talk to students about the breach and discuss where the vulnerability was, whether it was a software bug, a procedure problem or a social engineering issue where someone lost a password or couldn't remember their mother's maiden name," said Dr. Pardue in the Virginian-Pilot’s coverage of the hack. He told reporter Elizabeth Simpson that it's also a lesson in the importance of "encrypting" personal information, and having numerous password walls to protect large databases.
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