Canadian government investigates lost data

Canadian government investigates lost data

Canada has experienced what may well be the biggest case of identity theft the nation has seen. The details of 180 000 insurance customers, which include names, beneficiaries, social security numbers, pension values, pre-authourised checking information, mothers' maiden names, and most significantly, bank account details have been misplaced by IBM. All of the missing information was stored on a hard drive in a security facility in Regina, by ISM Canada, a subsidiary of IBM.

Whether or not the loss was due to negligence or theft remains to be seen. The company in question, Co-operators General Insurance, has sent letters to all 180 000 clients this week, warning them of the possibility of identity theft, while the matter is further investigated by local police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. However, the ramifications of the lost data could well register in other areas, with ISM Canada admitting that Co-operators General Insurance. weren't the only organisation affected. Beyond this, no-other information was divulged by ISM Canada, although it is known that the loss did not occur as a result of routine back-up procedures.

In a statement issued in late January, the Sasketchewan Government confirmed that a host of its information was on the misplaced hard drive. Apparently, some of the most essential government services, including health, finance, Public Employees Benefits Agency, Saskatchewan Property Management Corporation (SPMC), power and telecommunications have lost data of varying sensitivity. This includes pension plan member statements, industrial customer billing from supplier SaskPower; Select SaskTel customer data; annuity benefits for injured workers from 1996 to 2001; and revenue and expenditure data from SPMC.

Andrew Thompson the Minister for the SPMC confirmed the full police investigation. In conjunction with this, ISM Canada is undertaking its own internal inquiry into the disappearance of the information from the facility in Regina, SK, which ISM Canada claims has restricted and regulated access.

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