UnitedHealth Faces Massive Cyberattack, Americans’ Private Data Risked


UnitedHealth, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, recently indicated that a substantial proportion of Americans could be at risk following a cyberattack on its Change Healthcare business. The compromised files reportedly contain personal information, potentially impacting a significant sector of the population.

The company issued a statement on Monday following the market’s closure, asserting that there was no indication of any leakage concerning doctors’ charts or detailed medical histories. The exhaustive process of identifying and notifying those affected by the breach, however, may take several months.

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Alarmingly, UnitedHealth acknowledged that screenshots displaying protected health or personal identifiable information were temporarily viewable on the dark web – an anonymous, less accessible corner of the world wide web – for about a week.

UnitedHealth has reassured the public that they are vigilantly observing both the surface internet and the dark web for any further unauthorized file exposure. In response to queries and to provide updates, the company has initiated a dedicated call center and launched a new website. However, due to the ongoing investigation, the company clarified that it’s not currently capable of providing specifics, particularly regarding the effect on individual data.

In light of these events, UnitedHealth is offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for those who may have been affected by the attack.

UnitedHealth acquired Change Healthcare in a massive $8 billion deal, finalized in 2022. The merger met resistance from federal regulators who raised concerns about an antitrust infringement as the acquisition would put an enormous amount of healthcare claim information under the control of a single company.

In February, UnitedHealth reported that a ransomware group had infiltrated some systems of its Change Healthcare business, which offers tech services for insurance claim submissions and processing. The attack’s fallout caused significant disruption to payments and claims processing countrywide, straining healthcare systems and physicians’ practices.

Federal civil rights investigators are currently probing if protected health data were exposed during the breach, with UnitedHealth asserting that restoring disrupted services, particularly those affecting patient access to care or medications, is their immediate priority.

While pharmacy services and medical claim processing are slowly returning to standard operation levels, the payment process is only at about 86% of pre-attack efficiency. UnitedHealth has extended more than $6 billion in advance funding and interest-free loans to healthcare providers affected by this significant cyber onslaught.

The unanticipated cybersecurity breach had a considerable financial impact on the company, with the attack inflicting an $872 million blow to their first-quarter revenue. Company officials project the costs related to the cyberattack could increase beyond an estimated $1.5 billion for the year.

UnitedHealth, based out of Minnetonka, Minnesota, also oversees one of the largest pharmacy benefits management businesses and offers healthcare services alongside technology services.

Following the disclosure of such damaging news, the company’s share price slipped nearly $3 to $488.36 in Tuesday’s midday trading, contrasting the larger market trend that saw broader indexes climbing.