Police investigating breach of confidential electronic Government information
Halifax Regional Police is currently investigating a breach of electronic Nova Scotia Government files.
At 8:30 p.m. on April 7, police received a report from provincial government corporate security advising there had been breach of security on their network. The breach occurred between March 3 and March 5, 2018 and was discovered by a government employee on April 5.
Earlier this morning investigators with the General Investigation Section and Cyber Crime Unit of the Integrated Criminal Division executed a search warrant at an address in Halifax and took a person into custody in relation to the incident. The investigation is ongoing and charges have yet to be laid.
Government is working with Halifax Regional Police to investigate a breach of information on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) website.
Of the documents that were inappropriately accessed, less than four per cent, about 250, contained highly sensitive personal information. In total, about 7,000 documents were inappropriately accessed.
Examples of sensitive information may include birthdates, social insurance numbers, addresses and government services client information. Applicants’ credit card information was not accessed during the breach.
Government first became aware of the issue on Thursday, April 5, when a problem was identified with the freedom of information website. It was immediately shut down while a solution was sought for the problem. On Friday evening, April 6, government confirmed information was inappropriately accessed. Government filed a complaint with Halifax Regional Police to investigate on Saturday, April 7.
The incident set in motion the government’s privacy breach protocol, which prompted a shutdown of the system and an immediate and thorough investigation. It also activated government’s cybersecurity incident response process.
Government’s next step will be to notify affected individuals after careful consideration to not compromise the police investigation. Anyone concerned about their personal information can call 902-424-3843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nova Scotia’s Privacy Commissioner, Catherine Tully, who was informed of the breach earlier this week, has provided advice to government, and will investigate the incident.
“We deeply regret that individuals’ information has been compromised,” said Internal Services Minister Patricia Arab. “We welcome the commissioner’s full investigation of this incident.”
Internal Services and its cybersecurity team are working closely with the third-party service providers, Unisys and CSDC Systems, to secure the site and get it back up and running.
Until then, Nova Scotians inquiring about FOIPOP applications, or looking to view public applications can contact the FOIPOP office at 1-844-424-2985.
Launched in January 2017, the access to information website allows applicants to electronically submit requests, check for updates on the status of their requests and access previously released FOIPOP requests that were eligible for disclosure.
Source: Media Release