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Washington Premera Members Threated by Cyberattack

Flickr: 2012 Student Hackathon

Millions of Washington state customers of Premera blue cross may have been impacted by a cyberattack. Company officials are offering credit protection to those customers. Premera Blue Cross officials say their computer systems were breached by hackers sometime last spring, but didn’t uncover the incident until January. 

They say up to six million Washington state residents could be impacted. But they didn’t reveal the breach publicly until Tuesday. Premera VP of communications, Eric Earling explains the reasoning behind the delay in notifying customers.

Earling: "Based on previous experience with cyber-attackers, experts advised us that these sort of attackers will engage in much more malicious activity that can threaten business operations if an announcement is made before security systems are secured."

Earling says there was no indication that any of the data, which could include customers addresses and Social Security numbers, was removed or used inappropriately. Even so, he says the company is offering credit protection for any of it’s customers that seek it.

Earling: “Anybody who believes they were affected by this incident can go to, and right there on the site sign up for free credit monitoring, free ID theft protection services, and we are providing that for two years free of charge.”

Earling says the company is now working with the FBI on an investigation of the attack, and private cyber-security experts to clean their computer system.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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