Date
17 August 2017
Anthem, the second largest US health insurer, says 80 million customer records were stolen. Photo: Reuters
Anthem, the second largest US health insurer, says 80 million customer records were stolen. Photo: Reuters

China linked to massive hacking of US Social Security data

China is being linked to the theft of tens of millions of Social Security numbers from Anthem Inc., the second largest American health insurer.

Anthem discovered the incident last week and authorities said investigations are in their early stages, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.  

Some of the software and techniques in the attack are similar to those almost exclusively used by Chinese hackers, the report said, citing sources close to the investigation.

The hackers used malicious code that is part of a software family researchers call “Sakula” which has been linked to China in the past, they said.

They appear to be after personal information such as Social Security numbers, not financial information such as credit card details.

Anthem said credit card information and medical details were not at risk from the hacking in which 80 million customer records were exposed.

Last year, Community Health Systems Inc. blamed China for an intrusion that captured Social Security numbers and other personal data of 4.5 million people.

US officials also linked China to the theft of employment records from the Office of Personnel Management.

In those cases, none of the records were found for sale online. Anthem officials have said they have not seen any of their customers’ information for sale online.

Hacking experts and former US officials said they have no evidence China’s cyberwarriors are trying to monetize the personal data they steal.

Rather, they suspect China seeks information to find details on specific intelligence targets, the report said.

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RC/RA

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