[ISN] Hundreds warned as data disappears

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Mar 11 2003 - 23:02:21 PST

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    Globe and Mail Update
    March 11, 2003
    British Columbia's Ministry of Human Resources is warning 568 people
    to keep a close eye on their bank accounts and credit cards after
    confidential, personal information was stolen during a break-in at a
    ministry office in Coquitlam.
    Richard Chambers, a ministry spokesman, said there are concerns the
    information, which was contained on computer equipment stolen from the
    office, could be used illegally. Social insurance numbers, birth dates
    and addresses of clients and staff were stored on the stolen
    "The risk is that information if it was used improperly could lead to
    such serious breaches as identity theft," Mr. Chambers told
    globeandmail.com on Tuesday.
    The threat is that the information could be used to obtain credit
    cards or identity cards, he added.
    "People should be aware if they notice any unusual activity for
    example in a bank account or on a credit card," Mr. Chambers said,
    adding that if people notice any unauthorized transactions they should
    immediately contact both police and the Ministry.
    The incident in British Columbia comes on the heels of a similar
    situation in Regina where a computer hard-disk drive went missing that
    contained confidential information for more than one million people.
    The B.C. break-in occurred at the ministry's Coquitlam regional office
    on Feb. 5. At the time, several pieces of computer equipment were
    stolen, including a computer server for the region. The ministry had
    backups for all the information on the hard drive so the theft is not
    expected to affect the services the office provides to residents. The
    office handles welfare and disability benefits.
    The ministry has sent letters to all the affected people but Mr.  
    Chambers said it took weeks for a team to sort through more than
    50,000 bits of complex information to identify those affected.
    Following the break-in, Mr. Chambers said the ministry immediately
    changed locks in the office and computer passwords. Outside help was
    also hired to review the office's security systems.
    Police are investigating the break-in. The stolen property has yet to
    be retrieved, Mr. Chambers said.
    "We believe that the target of the theft was the computer equipment it
    wasn't the information contained within," Mr. Chambers said.
    Early last month, Regina police announced they had recovered a
    computer hard-disk drive that had been missing from ISM Canada Inc.  
    that contained confidential information for more than one million
    The disk contained a variety of data including account information for
    customers of Saskatchewan Power Corp., Saskatchewan
    Telecommunications, the provincial workers' compensation plan, a unit
    of Co-operators Group Ltd. of Guelph, Ont., Winnipeg-based Investors
    Group Inc. and thousands of Manitoba businesses.
    The disk, about the size of a videocassette, went missing on Jan. 16
    from ISM's Regina office. ISM, a subsidiary of Markham, Ont.-based IBM
    Canada Ltd., is one of the largest providers of information system
    services in Canada and its clients include dozens of government
    agencies and private businesses.
    Experts said the lost disk was the largest privacy mishap in Canada.
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