Pan-American Life Insurance Group suffered a cyber attack in late February and has been without much of its communications since, leaving customers with only an emergency email and an overloaded phone service to get in touch.
The New Orleans-based insurer, which serves a large client base across the U.S. and in Latin America from its headquarters on Poydras Street in the Central Business District, could not be reached directly through its phone system on Thursday or Friday.
Through an external public-relations firm, the company said it took its systems offline after detecting “suspicious activity” and that they have engaged outside experts to investigate the attack and get back up and running.
“We take the security of the data we maintain with the utmost degree of seriousness and our investigation is ongoing,” said the company in a prepared statement provided by Isabel Abislaiman, an operative for Fleishman Hillard, a public relations firm. “We will take appropriate steps once we have sufficient and meaningful information to enable those steps,” the statement added.
Pan-American Life declined to say specifically when the attack occurred and how long customers have been unable to reach them through its e-mail or phone systems. They also declined to say whether any customer data had been compromised.
The company plans to provide more detail about the attack and its consequences next week, Abislaiman said.
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Pan-American Life’s website wasn’t working Friday apart from the homepage, where a message advised that the company “is currently experiencing a disruption,” and provided emergency email addresses.
The offices in the 28-story Pan-American Life Center have been listed as “temporarily closed” since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pan-American Life cyber breach is the latest in a series of attacks suffered by New Orleans organizations in the past 18 months, the most serious of which was a ransomware attack a little over a year ago on City Hall itself, which has cost millions of dollars.
Others that were hit include the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the company that runs the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Smoothie King Center.
Pan-American Life has 1.5 million life insurance customers in the U.S. and 22 foreign countries in which it operates. It’s not clear how many of those customers are based in Louisiana.
Under a law passed by the Louisiana legislature last year, insurance companies are required to inform the Louisiana Department of Insurance of a security breach within three days of it occurring.
Last August, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said that protecting consumer information “has become a top priority for us as regulators.”
Donelon pointed out that the medical information that can be stolen from a variety of insurance records was particularly sought after by cyber thieves as they can fetch $1,000 per person on the black market.
The state insurance department couldn’t immediately say if or when it had been informed of the Pan-American Life attack.
Pan-American Life was founded in New Orleans in 1911 and it remains privately owned. In 2019, the company reported pre-tax earnings of $109 million on revenue of about $1.2 billion. It employs about 2,100 globally.
As well as the U.S., the company operates mostly in Latin American and Caribbean countries. It is, according to a report by Fitch Ratings agency last month, “a strong niche player targeting certain markets in the U.S., including the Hispanic and wealthy U.S. foreign national markets.”
Staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.
This story is developing. Please check back later for updates.
Source: Google | Insurance News