A data breach at LifeLabs, potentially affecting up to 15 million Canadians, was revealed Tuesday.
The company, which performs medical lab tests, apologized for the security breach in a statement, adding that it was first discovered several weeks ago.
The CEO of the company, Charles Brown, called the incident a wake-up call for the industry.
“Whether you’re a private company, a government, a hospital, we’re all seeing these attacks rise and there’s more and more of them and we’ve collectively got to do more to make sure all our customers feel secure,” he said in a letter to customers.
Here’s what you need to know.
LifeLabs hack exposes personal data of patients
What information was compromised?
Information that was compromised included health card numbers, names, email addresses, login, passwords and dates of birth. However, LifeLabs said it wasn’t sure how many of the files were accessed during the breach.
It added the hackers did obtain test results from as many as 85,000 Ontario residents, dated 2016 and earlier.
The company said it hired cybersecurity experts to secure the system and determine the scope of the attack, and paid an undisclosed amount of money as ransom to secure the information.
How serious is the hack?
Ann Cavoukian, the former privacy commissioner for Ontario and executive director and founder of Privacy by Design, told Global News Radio that the “most sensitive of information” was compromised in the hack.
“You would think that a company that is entrusted with so much of that information would have the strongest security measures imaginable,” she said. “Clearly, they didn’t.”
Cavoukian said an investigation into the hack, currently being conducted by the Ontario and B.C. privacy commissioners, will evaluate how something like this could have happened — and why the company took weeks to reveal it.
In his letter, Brown said system issues related to the breach have been fixed and Tuesday’s announcement is “in the interest of transparency.”
What can you do?
Cavoukian added that there’s not much those affected by the data breach can really do at this point. For starters, she said those who are unsure whether their data was affected should contact LifeLabs. They can also take steps such as changing their passwords.
While the company is still determining exactly how many people were affected, it said the majority are from Ontario and B.C. It also said it would contact Ontario customers whose test results were accessed.
The company has set up a phone line specifically to handle related inquiries.
LifeLabs also said Tuesday that customers concerned about the safety of their data will be able to receive “one free year of protection that includes dark web monitoring and identity theft insurance.”
How to protect yourself from a data breach
Why was a ransom paid?
Brown said in the release that the decision to pay a ransom was not easy, but he felt the responsibility to do everything possible to retrieve data.
“We wanted to get the data back,” he said. “We thought it was the smart thing to do because it was just in the best interests of our customers.”
Paying ransom is a fairly common business decision that can have some negative consequences, according to David Masson, director of enterprise security for cybersecurity firm Darktrace.
“If you pay, you’re telling the threat actors that you will pay. You’re quite likely to get hacked again or they’ll tell other threat actors that these people pay. So you could put yourself in a whole world of pain,” he said.
It also implies that the company has no other option to get the data back and doesn’t guarantee that all will be returned. Masson also believes the data never left the LifeLabs system but was encrypted.
— With files from The Canadian Press
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
RBC warns house price correction could be deepest in decades | CTV News – CTV News Toronto
A housing correction, which has already led to four consecutive months of price declines in the previously overheated Greater Toronto Area market, could end up becoming “one of the deepest of the past half a century,” a new report from RBC warns.
New data released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) last week revealed that the average benchmark price for a home in the GTA fell six per cent month-over-month in July to $1,074,754.
Sales were also down a staggering 47 per cent from July, 2021.
In a report published on Aug. 4, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue said recent data from real estate boards underlines that higher interest rates are beginning to take a “huge toll” on the market.
Hogue said that with further hikes to come, prices will likely continue to slide in the coming months.
That prediction, it should be noted, goes against a report from Royal LePage last month which painted a rosier forecast for sellers in which values would more or less holding for the rest of the year following some declines in the second quarter.
“Our expectations for further hikes by the Bank of Canada—another 75 basis points to go in the overnight rate by the fall— will keep chilling the market in the months ahead,” Hogue said. “We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates. Canada’s least affordable markets Vancouver and Toronto, and their surrounding regions, are most at risk in light of their excessively stretched affordability and outsized price gains during the pandemic.”
The Bank of Canada has hiked the overnight lending rate by 225 basis points since March and has warned that further hikes will be necessary given that inflation remains at a near 40-year high.
In his report, Hogue pointed out that the housing correction “now runs far and wide across Canada” but he said that it is particularly pronounced in the costlier markets of Toronto and Vancouver.
In fact, Hogue said that housing resale activity in Toronto is at its slowest pace in 13 years, outside of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stockpile of available homes is also up 58 per cent from a year ago, he noted.
“With more options to choose from and higher interest rates shrinking their purchasing budgets, buyers are able to extract meaningful price concessions from sellers,” he said, pointing out that the average price of a home in the GTA is down 13 per cent from March. “We expect buyers to remain on the defensive in the months ahead as they deal with rising interest rates and poor affordability.”
While Hogue did say that condos in the City of Toronto are likely to remain “relatively more resilient” he said that prices elsewhere will continue to fall for the time being, especially in the 905 belt “where property values soared during the pandemic.”
The July data from TRREB suggested that the average price of a home in the GTA was still up one per cent from July, 2021.
Commuters face GO transit cancellations, possible strike – CityNews
Canada Revenue Agency plans email blitz to get Canadians to cash outstanding cheques worth $1.4-billion – The Globe and Mail
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is planning a massive e-mail notification campaign to reach Canadians across the country who have uncashed cheques worth a net $1.4-billion.
The e-mail notifications will target recipients of the Canada child benefit and related provincial and territorial programs, as well as recipients of the GST/HST credits and the Alberta Energy Tax Refund.
The CRA said it plans to send approximately 25,000 e-mails in August, another 25,000 in November and a further 25,000 e-mails by May, 2023.
However, even without receiving an e-mail notification, the agency said a taxpayer can check if they have a cheque by logging into My Account, a secure portal on its website to check if they have an uncashed cheque over a period of six months. It added that representatives can also view uncashed cheques of their clients.
Each year, the CRA said it issues millions of payments to Canadian taxpayers in the form of refund benefits. These payments are issued by either direct deposit or by cheque.
“Over time, payments can remain uncashed for various reasons, such as the taxpayer misplacing the cheque or even a change of address which did not allow for delivery,” the agency said in a statement.
The CRA said since the e-mail notification initiative was first launched in February, 2020, about two million uncashed cheques valued at $802-million were redeemed by May 31, 2022.
The average amount per uncashed cheque is $158 with some of them dating as far back as 1998, the agency said.
As of May, 2022, there were an estimated 8.9 million uncashed cheques with the CRA. In May, 2019, about five million Canadians had an estimated 7.6 million uncashed cheques.
“As government cheques never expire or stale date, the CRA cannot void the original cheque and re-issue a new one unless requested by the taxpayer,” the statement read. “These upcoming e-notifications are to encourage taxpayers to cash any cheques they have in their possession.”
The agency said taxpayers can register for the direct deposit option on its website to receive payments directly into their bank accounts.
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