Sony Pictures admits HIPAA data might have been compromised during breach

Weeks later, Sony Pictures is telling employees what they already know

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In a breach notification letter sent to employees this week, Sony Pictures outlines the full scope of data that was compromised by attackers shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The notice is similar to an email sent earlier this month, but with more detail, and encourages staff to take advantage of AllClearID, which will offer identity protection services for the next 12 months.

It also warns them against Phishing attacks, or other malicious communications that might use this incident as leverage.

The letter discusses the "brazen cyber attack" carried out by a group calling themselves GOP – or Guardians of Peace.

The group claims to have spent more than a year accessing Sony's network, and has been leaking batches of internal documents and communications since November 26. To date, the group has leaked more than 200GB of data, including pre-release movies, executive emails, sales and marketing data, and nearly everything from human resources.

"Although [Sony Pictures Entertainment] is in the process of investigating the scope of the cyber attack, SPE believes that the following types of personally identifiable information that you provided to SPE may have been obtained by unauthorized individuals: (i) name, (ii) address, (iii) Social Security Number, driver's license number, passport number, and/or other government identifier, (iv) bank account information, (v) credit card information for corporate travel and expense, (vi) username and passwords, (vii) compensation and (viii) other employment related information.

"In addition, unauthorized individuals may have obtained (ix) HIPAA protected health information, such as name, Social Security Number, claims, appeals information you submitted to SPE (including diagnosis and disability code), date of birth, home address, and member ID number to the extent that you and/or your dependents participated in SPE health plans, and (x) health/medical information that you provided to us outside of SPE health plans."

Sony's attackers have leaked more than 30,000 HR records, which is why the list of compromised data in the breach notification letter is so vast.

While not mentioned in the letter directly, the leaked data also included criminal background checks, offer letters (salary and job details), and records related to personnel reviews and opinions within HR.

On Monday, Sony Pictures held a company-wide meeting at its headquarters west of Los Angeles. The details of the meeting are still emerging, but the gathering was supposed to inform employees as to the current state of the breach investigation, and hopefully offer a timeline of when things are expected to be back to normal.

Employees who have spoken to CSO have stated that network access is limited, and several systems used for day-to-day operations are still offline.

Staff are relying on weak Wi-Fi signals, Verizon Mobile Hot Spots, and a backup e-mail service that only allows communications with verified addresses. Other employees have also confirmed the grim conditions, adding that since the network shutdown shortly before Thanksgiving; productivity has slowed to a crawl in some cases.

A copy of the breach notification letter is here.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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