3,000 people affected by privacy breach after break-in at N.W.T. gov’t office

According to the N.W.T.’s Department of Education, Culture and Employment, the Lahm Ridge building in downtown Yellowknife was broken into on Mar. 16. (Francis Tessier-Burns/CBC)

By Francis Tessier-Burns 

Hard drives stolen contained personal data from past income assistance clients

About 3,000 people who were income assistance clients in the N.W.T. between 2006 and 2014 have had some of their personal information stolen in a recent break-in in Yellowknife.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) says its headquarters in the Lahm Ridge Tower in downtown Yellowknife was broken into on Mar. 16.

According to a news release from the department on Tuesday, items stolen include hard drives containing income assistance case reports dating from 2006 to 2014. Those are believed to include names of clients, their spouses and dependents; addresses; dates of birth; and marital status. Some files also contained social insurance numbers and health care card numbers.

The department says it has sent a letter to affected individuals with updated contact information.

CBC News has seen a copy of the letter, dated April 5, which outlines the types of information stolen.

“The GNWT sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience or concerns this incident causes you,” it reads.

Police investigating 

The department and RCMP are currently investigating the break-in.

A spokesperson for R.J. Simpson, minister of ECE, declined an interview.

CBC has asked RCMP about the police investigation but has not yet received a response.

The NWT information and privacy commissioner’s office has confirmed it is also investigating the incident, but declined to share more details.

ECE says it will be submitting a final privacy breach report to the commissioner’s office by Apr. 28.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nunavut government in Arctic Canada reformatting 2,000 computers after ransomware attack, CBC News

FinlandRussian cyber attacks, espionage pose growing threat to Finnish national security, Yle news

Greenland: Growing focus on Arctic puts Greenland at higher risk of cyber attacks: assessment, Eye on the Arctic

CBC News

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