http://www.globetechnology.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030311.wdata311/GTStory By ALLISON LAWLOR 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 computers. "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 people. 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. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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