China’s Anthem hack: they just wanna understand US healthcare

click to enlargeKnock yersself out! The Gimlet Eye files via Bottle from A Dot On The Map off the New York coast. One of the stranger follow ups of the past week–one that is difficult to read with straight face–is the report in the Financial Times that the Chinese hacked into insurer Anthem’s 80-million strong beneficiary database in order to study up on the American healthcare system and benefit their aging population. Neil Versel with raised eyebrow in MedCityNews quoting the FT story: “The Chinese hackers had trained their sights on the U.S. health sector to help the country understand how other nations deal with medical care, people familiar with the Anthem investigation said.” You’d think it would be easier for the Chinese to go to a few conferences, meet a few executives and learn a few things first. Then maybe they could do a ‘deal deal’ with an insurer on their IP, or bring them into China on a JV. With so many services for sale from the thundering horde of data analytics companies and multiple middleware providers, write a check already. But that would destroy the Fun of Hacking!

How the FT could actually print without a hint of skepticism this ‘nothing to see here, move on’ story rolls the Eye. FierceHealthPayer This is despite Symantec tracing the Anthem hackers to a Chinese organization known as Black Vine, connected to a Beijing-based IT security firm called Topsec and since 2012 focusing on healthcare, energy and aerospace, back in July. And when Beijing was done with their studies, they could sell the books–all that wonderfully valuable PHI on the (black) market! FierceHealthPayer

Perhaps we should let the Chinese hack away and steal every ‘secret’ so that they model their system after ours–which, we are incessantly lectured, is Highly Dysfunctional And In Need Of Saving. (It worked with the Soviets and the faked-up Concorde plans!)

What may be helpful is a new law that passed the US Senate, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. When it comes out of conference committee to reconcile it with a similar House bill, it sets up a secure national information-sharing infrastructure managed by the Department of Homeland Security. One hopes that it will be more functional than our airport passenger security. Or should we remove our shoes and hand over our house keys here? Healthcare IT News

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