Bell Canada alert prompts RCMP, privacy watchdog to probe data breach

Company spokesman: ‘Fewer than 100,000 customers were affected’

The RCMP has launched an investigation into a data breach at Bell Canada that appears to have compromised customer names and email addresses, but no credit card or banking information.

Bell Canada spokesman Nathan Gibson told The Canadian Press that “fewer than 100,000 customers were affected.”

RCMP spokeswoman Stephanie Dumoulin, at the police force’s national division in Ottawa, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner said they couldn’t disclose details.

“We are following up with Bell to obtain information regarding what took place and what they are doing to mitigate the situation, and to determine follow up actions,” said the federal privacy watchdog’s spokeswoman Tobi Cohen.

Bell Canada has alerted customers who were affected, and also informed them that additional security, authentication and identification requirements have been implemented.

“When discussing your account with our service representatives, you will be asked for this additional information to verify your identity,” its emailed notice to customers said.

Katy Anderson, a Calgary-based digital rights advocate with OpenMedia, said she’s glad Bell is implementing additional security checks.

“However, this is the second time the company has been hit by hackers in eight months,” Anderson said in a phone interview.

Bell Canada revealed in May that an anonymous hacker had obtained access to about 1.9 million active email addresses and about 1,700 customer names and active phone numbers.

Anderson said that the public should realize that centralized data is vulnerable, by its nature.

“When a breach like this happens, which we’re seeing more and more, it’s always a good reminder to change your passwords, update your security questions with things only you would know, and consider using a password manager,” Anderson said.

Bell’s latest data breach follows several other high-profile hacks, including at credit monitoring company Equifax and car-hailing service Uber, though those companies did not immediately disclose the breaches.

READ MORE: Equifax hack compromised 100,000 Canadians’ personal data

The federal government is in the process of reviewing changes to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act that would require companies to notify people in the event of a serious data breach.

But until those come into force, Alberta is the only province in Canada that has mandatory reporting requirements for private-sector companies.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Talks continue on structure of regional fire departments

Okanagan-Similkameen directors heard under the current structure the CAO’s title would need to change

PRICK! sees increase in patients

The rainbow friendly service offers STI and HIV screening monthly

First Things First evoking the power of song and play

Environmental group educating through entertainment

Super blood wolf moon fills Okanagan skies, to photographers’ delight

Photographers had a rare chance Sunday to capture a rare lunar eclipse

COLUMN: It’s a new year — let’s get active

Exercise is one of those things we can love and hate all… Continue reading

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

Man charged in 7-Eleven fire in Shuswap granted bail

Accused facing arson charges released with 23 conditions including a 7 p.m. curfew

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Most Read