According to new numbers attained by CTV News, 19 million Canadians had their data breached in an 8-month period between November 2018 and June 2019.
Canada’s current population is just shy of 38 million, meaning over half of all Canadians had their privacy violated in under a year, and estimates are that there may have been many breaches.
“The numbers come from 446 breaches that were reported to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC),” reports CTV News. “Victims of these kinds of data breaches are vulnerable to identity theft, financial crime, even violence in some cases.”
Of the 446 breaches, 59 percent came from “unauthorized access such as a hack or “internal bad actor”; 22 percent came from “accidental disclosures,” meaning that information was just left out and later picked up, sent to the wrong person, or accidentally included in other documents; 13 percent of the breaches were from “loss of data, which could be the physical loss of a usb drive or even paper files”; and 6 percent of thefts came from physical theft of various documents, either entire computers or simply stealing papers.
A significant example of such breaches was seen in July 2019 when the personal data of 6 million Canadians was illegally obtained by a single hacker that broke into Capital One, a U.S.-based credit card company. According to Bloomberg, the information stolen included the social insurance numbers (SINs) of roughly one million Canadians.
According to CTV News, we’re only hearing about such breaches now because of a new reporting law that came into effect last November which requires businesses to disclose significant and potentially compromising data breaches to the OPC. “Between then and June 2019, the OPC received 446 breach reports, nearly six times the number of reports received during the same time period under the previous voluntary reporting system.”
However, the scope of data breaches of Canada are likely significantly greater as political parties and some provincial governments do not have disclose such data breaches, even though they are equally susceptible, particularly during an election.
“Public agencies have some of the most sensitive information on Canadians including financial data, medical information and even how you voted,” writes CTV News. “Attention Control is investigating how this kind of information is being used by political operatives during the upcoming federal election to possibly mislead and even manipulate voters.”