Altice has notified affected customers, employees and former employees of...

Altice has notified affected customers, employees and former employees of the data breach, company officials said. Credit: Barry Sloan

A data breach at Altice USA Inc. has exposed the Social Security numbers, birth dates and other personal information of all 12,000 current employees as well as some former employees and a small number of customers, the company said.

Altice, the provider of Optimum cable television and internet services, said in a Feb. 5 notice to those affected by the data breach that it has “no information at this time that would indicate that your personal information has been misused.”

The breach occurred in November when an “unauthorized third party” used email phishing to gain access to the email account credentials of employees, said Lisa Anselmo, a  spokeswoman for Altice. The stolen credentials were used to remotely access and download the contents of mailboxes.

“During our investigation, we learned in January 2020 that certain downloaded mailboxes contained password-protected reports that included personal information  for current employees and some former employees," she said. "A limited number of customers were also included.”

Anselmo did not respond Tuesday to questions about how many customers were affected. Altice had nearly 5 million residential and business customers in December 2018, according to a securities filing. 

"No [personal] financial information was included" in the hacked material, Anselmo said.

Colleen Schmidt, Altice’s executive vice president of human resources, said the company is offering free identity and credit monitoring for one year from the credit reporting service Experian. Affected individuals have until April 30 to apply for the service, she said.

Additional information is available by calling 844-902-2038 on weekdays, between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The Long Island City, Queens-based company, which has a large operations center in Bethpage, had about 12,000 employees in 21 states as of December 2018, the securities filing said.

Altice was formed after Altice N.V. of the Netherlands purchased Cablevision Systems Corp. of Bethpage in 2016 for $17.7 billion. Cablevision owned Newsday Media Group at the time and some Newsday employees received notices about the data breach this week.

Altice USA reported the breach to federal law enforcement agencies, secured the email accounts, hired a computer forensics company and is training all employees in how to recognize and avoid phishing email, Anselmo said.

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