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Hackers may have accessed 22 B.C. government inboxes, data on 19 employees: Farnworth | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


VANCOUVER — Twenty-two British Columbia government email inboxes with sensitive personal information on 19 employees may have been accessed during a cyber attack on the province’s networks, the minister of public safety said on Monday.

Mike Farnworth said there’s no indication the general public’s information was compromised and investigators have not identified any misuse of the information the criminals may have accessed.

“A handful of these inboxes contain sensitive personal information on 19 individuals. These were employee files, and with one exception being an employee who had family information on their inbox,” he said.

Farnworth said the investigation into the attacks in April, which were made public in May, is continuing and evidence still points to state or state-sponsored actors as those responsible.

The minister would not provide details on where the employees work who were swept up in the breach, but said they are with the public service, not the government cabinet.

When the hack was revealed, Farnworth said the province upgraded its security systems in 2022, and it was those measures that detected the attacks.

The government said the incidents were first noticed on April 10 and confirmed the next day. A second attempted attack took place on April 29th.

Farnworth said on Monday that there are about 1.5 billion attempts a day to access government systems.

He said the Ministry of Citizen Services has a team of 76 people whose sole job is “ensuring the integrity and the security of the networks,” and that each ministry has its own staff dedicated to cyber issues.

“We know that cyber attacks have been increasing not just here, but in fact it’s a global issue, both in terms of governments and the private sector,” he said.

Farnworth said the employees have been notified and will be receiving credit monitoring and help with identity protection.

The hack is one of several recent cyber breaches in the province, including one at the First Nations Health Authority and an attack that forced retailer London Drugs to shut down stores across Western Canada for more than a week.

An April 2022 Public Safety Canada parliamentary hearing on “Countering Hostile Activities by State Actors,” discussed threats posed to democracy by state actors looking to erode trust in democratic institutions and stoke tensions over government policies.

“In recent years, Canada has seen an increase in the frequency and sophistication of hostile activities by state actors, like Russia, seeking to advance their political, economic and security interests to the detriment of Canada’s,” said official hearing notes.

“The government of Canada remains steadfastly committed to combating foreign interference by any foreign state seeking to harm Canada, to protecting our democratic institutions and to promoting economic security,” the notes said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2024.

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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