Who really has the 4TB of Change Healthcare data 4 sale? And in great timing, Optum lays off a rumored 20K–say wot?

The data is for sale! And the top does not go down, but the price definitely goes up! That old antique auto auction cry is paraphrased here because the 4TB of patient data hacked from Change’s systems is up for sale, since Change/Optum didn’t buy it. Interested parties should stroll over to the dark web and see RansomHub’s listing for details.

Unlike some news sources that got confused, this apparently is the same 4TB that BlackCat/ALPHV affiliate ‘notchy’ stole (technically, exfiltrated) posted about on a dark web site shortly after the attack [TTA 7 Mar]. According to those early reports, ‘notchy’ was dissatisfied that he didn’t get a cut of the $22 million ransom that Optum supposedly paid the BlackCat/ALPHV group.

For their $22 million ransom, which Change has not, repeat NOT, confirmed, ALPHV gave Change a decryptor key. But, they didn’t have the good manners to 1) return the stolen data to Change or delete it, which included highly sensitive data from multiple Change customers including active military PII (from Tricare), patient PII, payment and claims data, and much more, and 2) pay a cut to the affiliate. And then ALPHV shut down and ran out of town.

Here’s the latest updates from DataBreaches. net

Over a month later, an outfit called RansomHub posted, again on the dark web, that it has the 4TB of data. 

As reported here on 10 April, there was an announcement on the RansomHub website, not signed by ‘notchy’, that if Change wasn’t interested in paying for the data, it would be up for sale. There was some confusion, based on a WIRED report, that this was a second breach. The RansomHub information seemed to point to only ‘notchy’s’ data.

DataBreaches followed up with RansomHub to 1) verify they had the data, asking if 2) was it ‘notchy’s data’, and 3) how did RansomHub obtain it if not ‘notchy’? RansomHub also leaked some screenshots of  2011-2013 Medicare claims data. This old data raises even more questions on why this data was even available online and not stored offline…unless…. RansomHub’s 15 April posting included this statement, “The more we go through the data the more we are shocked of the amount of financial, medical, and personal information we find and it will be more devastating than the first attack itself.” 

By 16 April, DataBreaches reported that the listing read:

Change HealthCare – OPTUM Group – United HealthCare Group – FOR SALE

The data in now for sale. Anyone interested in the purchase should contact RansomHub. 

But does RansomHub actually have it? Are they ‘notchy’, in it with ‘notchy’, brokering ‘notchy’, or is it a second 4TB breach? Stay tuned.

Thousands at Optum won’t care one way or another. Reports since last Thursday have been that first hundreds, then thousands, then up to 20,000, have been laid off. These are based on social media postings on LinkedIn and boards like The Layoff where anyone can post. Optum has not confirmed any layoffs to industry media such as FierceHealthcare and Becker’s Hospital Review / Becker’s ASC Review which published reports starting last Friday. Federal and state WARN notices, which usually confirm mass layoffs by state, have been oddly empty. 

Across the reports, Optum has laid off staff from their California care division (400), home health provider Landmark Health (500), urgent care MedExpress (all as of 18 July), Genoa (OptumRx-unknown). Notices range from immediate, to two weeks into May, and forward. Types of jobs eliminated have been at all levels of regional and corporate, affecting engineers, care management, clinical, case directors, data operations, and integration managers. This LinkedIn post claims up to 20,000. Optum’s silence has let the rumor mill run overtime.

CMS has lowered Medicare Advantage reimbursement, but other insurers factored this in earlier this year. The major whack was the Change Healthcare cyberattack. Though the public posture of UnitedHealth Group is that most of the systems are back or being worked around, the financial truth is that the Change disaster will cost them $1.6 billion in 2024 as announced last week. It does lead one to wonder about how mighty UHG, on an acquisition tear for years through today, always doing well and pleasing Mr. Market, got quite so overstaffed. How would it be overstaffed by thousands or the rumored 20,000 who are suddenly, dramatically unnecessary? That may boost the stock, but it gives the Feds yet another ax to grind, what with the House savaging an absent UHG on the cyberattack handling and their payments to providers [TTA 18 April], DOJ taking a hard cold look into UHG’s business practices, specifically around antitrust between the payer group and Optum [TTA 6 Mar], and approvals for the Amedisys buy stalling.

Here’s a view at variance, not about the layoffs but about how UHG is really doing. STAT’s analysis of UHG’s financial report is that the Change losses barely dent the overall picture and won’t affect 2024 earnings. Q1’s loss was mostly the Brazil writedown. It also confirmed that CEO Andrew Witty had a certain gall to say in prepared remarks that the Change situation would have been so much worse had they not been owned by UHG. Mr. Witty will have some ‘splainin’ to do before the House and the Senate, 30 April and 1 May, respectively.

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