The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Health Net Data Breach Affects 1.9 Million People

Second major breach for Health Net in two years

2 min read
Health Net Data Breach Affects 1.9 Million People

There were stories yesterday like this one at Health Leaders Media and this one at the LA Times reporting that California-based insurer Health Net has suffered yet another massive data breach, this time involving 1.9 million current and past customers, health-care providers and employees. The information involved may include their names, addresses, health information, Social Security numbers and/or financial information, the company said.

In 2009, Health Net reported that a hard drive containing seven years worth of financial and medical information on 1.5 million customers went missing. The drive was lost in May of 2009, but this fact wasn't reported until November of that year. The company was fined by both Vermont and Connecticut for that little oversight and for not taking adequate care of its customers' sensitive information.

This time, as many as nine servers have gone missing from Health Net's data center that is operated by IBM and is located in Rancho Cordova, California. According to its statement, the company said it is conducting an investigation into the loss.


"To help protect the personal information of affected individuals, Health Net is offering them two years of free credit monitoring services, including fraud resolution and, if necessary, restoration of credit files, as well as identity theft insurance."

This protection is being offered out of what the company calls "an abundance of caution."

No doubt getting hit with heavy fines by state regulators for the previous data breach also helped increase that abundance of corporate caution, which would have been very useful before the servers went missing.

Earlier this month, there was another health-related data breach reported involving some 300,000 people. This incident involved three unencrypted storage tapes, a laptop, a zip drive and a hard drive all being stolen from the car of an employee of the Cord Blood Registry, which its website says, is a "cord blood bank [that] has helped many families use their stem cells for lifesaving transplants and other therapies."

The theft took place in mid-December of last year, but was only disclosed in early March of this year.

According to this blog post at NetWorkWorld, the company says that:

"The tapes may have contained personal client data of adults (credit card numbers, driver's license numbers or social security numbers); nothing on children and no health information at all."

The Cord Blood Registry is offering free credit monitoring for a year for those affected.

The Conversation (0)

An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

Keep Reading ↓Show less