Breach, Data Security

N.H. insurance firm had no idea it was working with breached vendor

A now-defunct, third-party vendor for Primex, which provides insurance to schools and governments in New Hampshire, lost an external hard drive and backup tape containing the personal information of thousands of people.

How many victims? 14,000 workers' compensation and automobile liability claimants. Fifty-five of the 14,000 were Primex claimants.

What type of personal information? Addresses, Social Security numbers and medical diagnoses.

What happened? On New Year's Eve, burglars stole equipment from the San Diego office of medical records firm Impairment Resources. The company went out of business as a result of the breach, eventually filing for bankruptcy.

Details: A May 29 letter to the New Hampshire attorney general's office said Primex "could find no evidence" of having done business with Impairment Resources. However, it formerly had contracted with Brigham and Associates, which assesses workers' compensation claims. In 2009, Brigham & Associates launched Impairment Resources as a joint venture to provide impairment ratings, defined as the amount of "functional loss" that a claimant has.

There is no reason to believe the thieves were targeting any personal information, and there is no evidence any of the data was accessed. To view the data contained on the drive and tape, the burglars would need other equipment and be able to restore the original operating system.

Source: Letter to New Hampshire office of the attorney general, May 29, 2012., The Wall Street Journal, "Burglary Triggers Medical Firm's Collapse," March 12, 2012.

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