Freedom Mobile hit by data breach,15,000 customers affected - Canadanewsmedia
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Freedom Mobile hit by data breach,15,000 customers affected

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Freedom Mobile confirmed Tuesday it had a data security breach from late March to late April, but the wireless carrier said only about 15,000 customers were affected — far fewer than an outside research firm’s estimate.

The Calgary-based company — which operates networks in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia — was apparently warned of the breach by researchers at vpnMentor, which announced it to the press.

The vpnMentor report said two of its researchers, Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, had warned Freedom of their findings on April 17, 18 and 23 but didn’t get a response from the company until April 24.

“For ethical reasons, we didn’t download the database, so we don’t know exactly how many people were affected,” the blog said.

However, the blog was posted under the title “Report: Freedom Mobile Customer Data Breach Exposes 1.5 Million Customers” based on the assumption that hackers could access unencrypted data from all of Freedom’s customer base.

Freedom said in an emailed statement that “any reference to 1.5 million customers affected is inaccurate . . . ”

The company said its investigation determined the breach began on March 25 and affected data processed by a new external third-party vendor, Apptium Technologies, that had been hired to streamline its retail customer support.

“The internal systems of Freedom Mobile or (parent) Shaw Communications were not compromised as part of this third-party vendor security exposure,” the company said in a statement.

It said the breach affected customers at 17 retail stores who opened or changed accounts as late as April 15 or made changes to opened accounts on April 16. It said the problem was fixed by April 23.

Freedom also said that it had found no evidence, as of Tuesday, that any data has been misused “and we are conducting a full forensic investigation to determine the full scope of impact.”

Valerie Lawton, of the federal privacy commissioner’s office, said in an email that it had received a breach report related to Freedom Mobile late Monday afternoon.

“Canada’s federal private sector privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), includes confidentiality provisions and we don’t have further details to offer at this time,” Lawton said.

Under PIPEDA, which was most recently updated in November, private-sector organizations that control personal information must advise the privacy watchdog of breaches that pose a “real risk of significant harm” to individuals.

They must also notify affected individuals about the breaches and keep records.

However, the Canadian law — in contrast to the European Union’s year-old General Data Protection Regulation — provides more flexibility about when organizations inform the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Asked why it didn’t disclose close the leak sooner, the company said it took time to verify the legitimacy of the warning and verify details with its third-party vendor.

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US$1 billion in 67 seconds and other numbers to know

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Singles’ Day in the world’s most populous country has become a mammoth marketing event for China’s e-commerce businesses that have turned it into the world’s biggest online shopping extravaganza.

Singles’ Day, which originated on university campuses in Nanjing, China in the 1990s, became an annual shopping bonanza after Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce retailer, made it into an event a decade ago.

This year’s sales surpassed last year’s record, with two of the country’s largest online retailers reporting combined sales of more than US$63 billion, even before final numbers were reported. The eye-popping figures make Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S. seem somewhat anemic and humdrum by comparison. Alibaba posted live updates on its website and on Twitter, but for the very keen, the company also provided a real-time sales counter.

Singles’ Day by the numbers:

1. Singles’ Day takes place on November 11, because the number one and the date, 11/11, looks like a single person.

2. Alibaba said sales by merchants on its platforms totalled 268.44 billion yuan (US$38.38 billion) by midnight local time, handily surpassing last year’s total of US$30.8 billion.

3. Alibaba said the number of delivery orders exceeded 1.042 billion in 18 hours and 31 minutes; surpassing the 2018 total.

4. Alibaba said sales exceeded US$1 billion just 1 minute and 7 seconds after midnight on November 11, and surpassed US$10 billion after 29 minutes and 45 seconds.

5. In the U.S. in 2018, Black Friday brought in US$6.2 billion last year, and US$7.9 billion on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics.

6. Alibaba rival, JD.com, reported sales of 179.4 billion yuan ($25.6 billion) by mid-afternoon, according to The Associated Press.

7. More than 200,000 brands from over 200 countries and regions were expected to participate in this year’s event; only 27 brands participated in 2009.

8. A once-informal day, a countdown gala leading up to Singles’ Day that included a performance from Taylor Swift was broadcast on nearly 30 online streaming platforms and TV channels.

9. Online shopping makes up 19.5 per cent of Chinese consumer spending, compared with about 11 per cent for American consumers, according to The Associated Press.

10. Alipay said it set a record on Singles’ Day in 2017 for most payment transactions, processing 256,000 payment transactions per second, just 5 minutes into Singles’ Day; 1.48 billion transactions were ultimately processed over the course of 24 hours.

11. China’s State Post Bureau is expected to handle 2.8 billion packages from Nov 11 to 18, according to state-run press agency Xinhua.

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OpenText snaps up cloud security firm Carbonite in $1.42 billion deal

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OpenText, the Waterloo-based enterprise cloud information management company, announced Monday that they have reached a deal worth US$1.42-billion to acquire Carbonite, Inc, a Boston company that does cloud data protection and endpoint management.

OpenText chief executive Mark Barrenechea said that part of the reason why he likes Carbonite is because it gives an opportunity to sell to 300,000 small businesses and 7 million individual professionals.

“This acquisition will further strengthen OpenText as a leader in cloud platforms, complete end-point security and protection, and will open a new route to connect with customers, through Carbonite’s marquee SMB/prosumer channel and products,” Barrenechea said in a news release.

The deal of US$23 per share for the Boston-based Carbonite is a 25 per cent premium to the close of trading Friday. OpenText will pay $800 million in cash with the total transaction including debt valued at US$1.42 billion.

OpenText shares were up 2.3 per cent and Carbonite were up 24 per cent in morning trading.

Historically, Opentext has focused most of its efforts on the largest enterprise clients.

Speaking to investment analysts, Barrenechea said it will likely take around 18 months to fully integrate the company into OpenText.

The company has a long history of growing through acquisition; OpenText spent nearly US$3 billion between 2013 and the beginning of 2017, including the US$1.62 billion acquisition of Dell EMC, the company’s enterprise content management division.

As of September 30, Carbonite had $405 million in trailing twelve-month revenue.

• Email: jmcleod@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Keystone pipeline restarted after breach in North Dakota

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The owner of the Keystone pipeline says the line has returned to service after a breach that leaked an estimated 1.4 million litres of oil in northeastern North Dakota late last month.

TC Energy Corporation says the move follows the approval of its repair and restart plan by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which ordered the line shut until the Canadian company completed corrective action.

The company says it will operate the pipeline at a reduced pressure with a gradual increase in the volume of crude oil moving through the system.

The line, which began operating in 2011, is designed to carry crude oil from Alberta across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri on the way to refineries in Patoka, Ill. and Cushing, Okla.

The spill affected about 2,090 square meters of land near Edinburg, N.D.

TC Energy says it continues to work closely with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality as it investigates the cause of the breach.

“We appreciate the cooperation and support from local officials, emergency response personnel and commissioners in Walsh County, as well as the landowner who has granted permission to access land for assessment, repair and clean-up activities,” TC Energy said in a statement on Sunday.

“We also want to recognize the continued efforts of our crews, contractors and businesses in the community for their around-the-clock support, which has allowed us to respond quickly and safely to this event.”

The company adds it is communicating plans to its customers and will continue working closely with them as it begins to return to normal operating conditions.

It said on its website that it has observed no significant impacts to the environment.

The pipeline spill and shutdown come as the company seeks to build the US$8-billion Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oilsands oil from Alberta to refineries in Texas.

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