PCVA’s Case Against Premera on King 5 News Tonight

The fallout from Premera’s massive data breach continues as more people join the class action lawsuit against the largest insurer in our state.

A Tacoma woman believes she’s already dealing with the impact of that data breach. Maria Sullivan is one of hundreds of people who have signed on with a law firm handling a class action lawsuit against Premera.

“That’s very angering,’ said Sullivan. “Working like I do in the healthcare field I have to be so careful with what I even leave on my desk. That every paper is turned over. So they should be that careful.”

Sullivan works as an account representative for a local hospital. So she is well aware of the kind of private information that may have been exposed in Premera’s data breach.

Sullivan signed up with Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, & Amala to join the class action lawsuit against Premera Tuesday. She believes thieves obtained her private information through the insurer’s cyber attack. Someone already filed a false tax return in her name.

“Stressed! Stressed! And on top of my tax returns now I’m starting to receive stuff from China,” said Sullivan.

She showed us one of several small packages that started arriving in the mail, items she never ordered from companies she’s never heard of.

According to her attorney Darrell Cochran, the information hackers got their hands on has the potential to do a lifetime of damage.

“Premera was warned it didn’t have security safeguards in place, and that there were steps they could have taken to prevent this level of a cyber attack,” said Cochran.

Three weeks before the data breach in May of 2014, auditors from the federal Office of Personnel Management informed the insurer that network security patches were not being implemented in a timely manner, and that when it came to access control, Premera’s data center did not contain controls they typically observe at similar facilities.

According to the insurer, the breach went undetected until this past January, and Premera didn’t tell its customers until mid-March when the problem was fixed.

A spokesperson for Premera said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, but said their security consultant “…found no evidence that the cyber attack was related to issues in the federal audit.”

Cyber-security expert Brian Seely says Premera’s offer for 2 years of free credit monitoring is twice as long than most data breach cases. But with birth dates and social security numbers stolen, it’s likely not long enough.

“Your information isn’t just magically not going to be stolen,” said Seely. “It’s always going to be stolen and out there and someone has it, who is going to be even more irresponsible than Premera.”

At the time this article was written, about 166,000 customers had signed up for the free credit monitoring.