According to a news report, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee admitted on January 25th that it has spent more than $7 million to address an October theft of 57 computer hard drives. The company said that it may have to spend millions more to assess what was on the missing computer records and to provide identity protection for affected customers. According to its website, the company has notified 220,000 BCBS customers in Tennessee and other states where persons covered by BCBS of TN plans may work. Further, determining what was on the stolen hard drives as required by the HITECH Act and state notification requirements has required the hiring of more than 700 contract and BlueCross workers.
If we are to accept the Ponemon Institute’s most recent Cost of Breach report, this breach will ultimately cost BCBS of TN over $44 million. Given that 67% of the $204 per record cost consists of lost customers and other indirect costs, it looks like BCBS of TN has another $7.8 million to go on its notification, credit monitoring, forensics and other direct expenses.
This breach is a stark reminder that even though the lawsuits are being won by breach defendants, costs incurred prior to the first lawsuit can be very significant. Having a post-breach gameplan in place to address these costs has certainly become absolutely crucial during the past few years. After all, nothing hurts a bottom line as quickly as a significant unfunded expense.
Update: March 14, 2012
BCBS of TN agrees to pay HHS $1.5 million under the HITECH Act’s breach notification settlement. When coupled with the $17 million in first-party expenses already paid, this incident remains a stark reminder as to the benefits of a network security and privacy insurance policy.