Why health hacks are worse than credit card hacks

Fortune

In the largest-ever security breach of a heath insurance company, Anthem [fortune-stock symbol=”WLP”] revealed on Thursday that the personal data of 80 million customers may have been exposed to hackers.

It’s likely that hackers will continue to target health care companies. For one thing, health data is a richer source of personal information than credit card data. Among the bounty: social security numbers, e-mail addresses, birthdays, street addresses, policy numbers, diagnosis codes, billing information, and the names of family members—the sort of information used in security questions for online accounts.

Malicious hackers can use that information for what’s sometimes called a “soft hack,” or unauthorized entry without the use of sophisticated software. Identity thieves can gain access to a person’s account by guessing the right answers to security questions and resetting a password. With the right combination of family and personal information, a thief can also use fake identities…

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