Justice ministry looking into privacy breach case at Vonda SGI issuer
Saskatchewan’s justice ministry is investigating a privacy breach in which an employee at a private SGI licence issuer in Vonda accessed information on thousands of people.
A report from the province’s privacy commissioner states the breach involved an employee at Hometown Insurance Brokers in the community located about 50 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
The employee admitted to SGI of accessing private information — such as photos, email addresses, birth dates, customer numbers, customer names, mailing addresses, height and eye colour — in the agency’s auto fund database without authorization since 1995, according to the report.
The exact number of people affected by the employee’s snooping is still not clear, but the report states information on more than 1,400 people was accessed in one year, between July 2015 and July 2016.
“It’s certainly one of the most significant breach cases that we’ve encountered in the province,” privacy commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski told CTV News.
SGI first notified customers of the breach and sent a media release on the incidents in late July. The release stated the employee, a broker, had no malicious intent and no desire to share the information or use it for personal gain.
The agency passed the investigation on to the justice ministry after the privacy commissioner’s report was released in September. The commissioner recommended passing the case to prosecutors and called for more strict guidelines for SGI to safeguard certain personal information.
“SGI or any other organization just has to become more rigorous in terms of training who gets in, audit procedures, working with the brokers to make sure that there’s random audits,” Kruzeniski said.
SGI’s auto fund executive vice-president Earl Cameron says the agency has since made changes, including increased monitoring and increased audits as well as a system to better track transactions.
The Ministry of Justice would not comment Thursday on the status of the case.
The employee has since lost access to SGI’s computer system.
Fraud prevention expert Brian Trainor says a lot can be done with information from a driver’s licence.
A person can make online purchases or apply for a driver’s licence with a photograph on it. They can then obtain credit cards or even social insurance numbers.
“Once you have enough information on people, a lot of things can happen,” he says.