Investigators of Anthem Inc.’s data breach are pursuing evidence that points to Chinese state-sponsored hackers who are stealing personal information from health-care companies for purposes other than pure profit, according to three people familiar with the probe.
The breach, which exposed Social Security numbers and other sensitive details of 80 million customers, is one of the biggest thefts of medical-related customer data in U.S. history. China has said in the past that it doesn’t conduct espionage through hacking.
The attack appears to follow a pattern of thefts of medical data by foreigners seeking a pathway into the personal lives and computers of a select group — defense contractors, government workers and others, according to a U.S. government official familiar with a more than year-long investigation into the evidence of a broader campaign.
I have two conflicting responses to this: one, this is fairly normal fare for rival nation-states, and two, this is creepy and possibly an escalation of what was known before. That China has a keen interest in US military technology is no secret, and should not be. That China is almost certainly stealing US technology is similarly not news. That China may be sponsoring hackers to steal private health information of defense contractors, federal employees, on the other hand is news to me.
My first guess would be that this might be useful to determine who might be vulnerable to bribes. If Timmy the Contractor has some serious medical conditions, and you can hack into his bank and determine his overall financial picture isn’t great either, that’s useful information.
I’m honestly not sure how useful knowledge of peoples’ health conditions alone would be. Obama has asthma, so let’s smuggle some mold into the White House? Billy with the DIA smokes, so let’s slowly increase the nicotine dosage on his cigarettes to shave 2 years off his life? Clearly I’m not very imaginative here.