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Call Center Operations Modified After Potential Security Breach

by Christine Stuart | Jun 9, 2014 2:39pm
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Congress, Health Care, Law Enforcement, Legal, Public Safety, State Capitol, Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

New York Deli & More on Trumbull Street where the backpack was found

HARTFORD — Dry erase boards will begin to replace paper at the Access Health CT call center to reduce the chance an employee will leave the office with customers’ personal information.

Eilene Baylinson of Maximus Health Services, the company which manages the call center on behalf of Access Health CT, said last week’s incident prompted them to speed up the process of moving toward a paperless office.

“We are moving toward a completely paperless policy,” Baylinson said Monday at a press conference.

Hartford Police detectives are investigating the incident in which an employee of the Access Health CT call center left a backpack containing the names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of hundreds of Access Health CT customers near some chairs outside New York Deli & More on Trumbull Street last week.

It’s unclear if the backpack was left overnight, but a deli employee said they did not bring the backpack inside the store when they brought the table and chairs in from outside last Thursday. Alex Elad, an employee at the deli, said Monday that a white man around the age of 55 inquired about the backpack and said he would help get it back to its owner.

Somehow the backpack made it to the office of Rep. Jay Case, R-Winsted. A Republican staff member called Access Health CT and Peter Van Loon, the chief operating officer, walked over to the Legislative Office Building Friday to retrieve it.

Baylinson said it’s company policy to shred any personal information every day before leaving the office.

Why an employee, who is now on administrative leave, would remove four notebooks of information is still unclear.

“We’re right in the middle of the investigation,” Baylinson said.

She said the individual is “extremely remorseful” and she has no reason to believe “anything untoward was going on.”

The individual sat on the chairs near the deli and put down his coat and backpack as he was waiting for a ride home, Baylinson said. When his ride came “he picked up what he thought was his backpack and his coat and got into the car and unfortunately it was just his coat and not his backpack as well,” she explained.

“In our discussions with him he very clearly understood the policies and was very upset and very remorseful. We believe it was just completely a mistake,” Baylinson said.

Christine Stuart photo

Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer of Access Health CT

She said removing the information from the office is a violation of their corporate policy.

But the incident has House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero questioning the security at Access Health CT. He said the incident highlights an “appalling lack of oversight.’’ 

“We were told by Access Health CT overseers that our proposals for background checks and other safeguards were not needed, that the security situation was in hand,” Cafero said Monday. “Clearly, that was not the case.”

Jason Madrak, chief marketing officer for Access Health CT, said federal officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were notified of the situation, but it’s too soon to tell if they will seek to impose sanctions on the exchange for the incident.

Until the investigation is completed, Madrak said he can’t answer questions about what, if any, ramifications the incident will mean for the exchange.

The incident drew the attention of Congressional media outlets like Politico and CQ.

Hartford Police said they are working cooperatively with the federal government on the investigation.

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(13) Comments

posted by: Matt from CT | June 9, 2014  4:23pm

It’s not unusual at offshore centers (whether it’s call centers, tech support, etc.) that they prohibit bringing personal items into the work area. 

Employees have lockers outside the work area for when they are on break, so removing something like a notebook would be obvious.

Moreover, many are “paperless” to prevent data theft—no pens or pencils, or personal devices, allowed inside.  Not provided by the company, not provided by the employee.

posted by: Common Sense | June 9, 2014  7:17pm

House Minority leader Larry Cafero is correct when he cited:  “This highlights an appalling lack of oversight by Access Health CT.”
They need to get their act together.

posted by: One and Done | June 10, 2014  7:17am

Because no one could possibly sneak in a jump drive or figure out how to hack the systems from the inside.

posted by: dano860 | June 10, 2014  1:39pm

How are we to know that this wasn’t an inside job and they just got sloppy.
After all, why would anyone need to take any information out of there?
Homework, I don’t think so!

posted by: Common Sense | June 10, 2014  2:35pm

@dano860: Credit the law of averages. Being sloppy and careless is easy for some people. Everyone can’t be a perfectionist.  We all make mistakes.

posted by: christopherschaefer | June 10, 2014  8:40pm

Headline SHOULD read: “GOP staffer prevents massive security breach”

posted by: art vandelay | June 11, 2014  5:49am

art vandelay

Another good reason why government should NOT be involved with healthcare.  Obamacare needs to be repealed in every respect.

posted by: Bulldog1 | June 11, 2014  9:38am

Art,
How did youi miss the fact that the employee who dumped the backpack worked for Maximus, a private sector firm?  Not the government.

posted by: art vandelay | June 11, 2014  9:57am

art vandelay

@Bulldog1,
It may have been a private contractor, but the buck stops with the government & I don’t want them involved w/healthcare.

posted by: GBear423 | June 11, 2014  11:03am

GBear423

Bulldog, how can you miss the fact that government hired a company proven to be an epic failure??  Was it not you that pointed out that maximus was booted out of Indiana by Gov Mitch Daniels?  Is it not the responsibility of Government to hire competent companies? To properly vet the company they intend to hire?  Is it not suspect that this Maximus group may have an inside track to these government jobs?
You can’t absolve government of wrongdoing when they are the ones hiring. Ultimately it is a failure of Government, in this case, the State of Connecticut, currently ran by the Malloy Administration.

Take Government out of healthcare or continue to see this incompetent, likely criminal, outcome.

posted by: Bulldog1 | June 11, 2014  1:48pm

Right, and I’m sick of 100 milliion dollar CEO’s and the investors who cream 30% off the premium dollars that I and everyone else pays.

Why should I or anyone pay that crowd?  When hospitals are privatized wages for the ordianry staff go down, benefits dissapear and the “profit” goes out of state.  Money doesn’t stay in the neighborhood whcih only benefits someone on Wall Street, or in Texas (the outfit taking over Waterbury hospitals) or somewhere else down south. That’s a prescription for a healthy state economy?

posted by: Common Sense | June 11, 2014  1:58pm

It appears that everything the Malloy administration gets involved with ends up as a failure. This bad luck political machine must be terminated on Election Day.

posted by: Diogenese | June 12, 2014  5:56am

Nice to know that a super modern operation started with… notebooks and pencils. .. I wonder if that was their fail over ‘system’ if their system went down?