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WXXI's continuing coverage of the data breach that may affect the personal information of more than 10 million Lifetime Health Care Companies/Excellus BCBS customers, and how the company is assisting those affected.

Computer Security Expert: We May Still Not Know The Full Extent Of The Recent Cyberattack

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Arun Vishwanath

We may still not know the extent of how many people potentially were affected by the cyber attack that hit Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and its affiliated companies.

That's the feeling of a computer security expert at the University at Buffalo, Arun Vishwanath, who is an Associate Professor of Communications and Management Sciences.

At this point, officials at the health care company say that hackers may have had access to the records of  just over 10 million customers at Excellus and affiliated Lifetime Healthcare companies.

But Vishwanath says it may be too early to say just how many people ultimately could be impacted.

“It’s very hard to estimate exactly what those numbers are, it takes about four to five months to understand just what the scope of the attack was and I think as time goes, we’ll probably find out more about this, they’ll probably find out more about this. So I don’t think they’re concealing it, but I think it’s very hard to estimate it to begin with.”

Vishwanath also says that even with credit monitoring that is being offered, it doesn't alter the fact that some data has been released, and can’t be made private again.

“With social security numbers, with credit cards, you can have credit monitoring, you can have a new credit card number , but with personal information that’s leaked, sensitive information, health information, health records, it’s there forever.”

Vishwanath  says these kinds of attacks have become almost commonplace, and he says that while people may be looking for some magic solution, what is really needed is a way to help people pay more attention to how they conduct themselves online.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.