Details regarding loss of the hard drive
-- A hard drive containing personal information on 583,000 Canada Student Loans borrowers dated from 2000-2006 has been deemed lost at an HSRDC office in Gatineau, Quebec, although the search is ongoing.-- The file contained information including student names, dates of birth, Social Insurance Numbers, addresses and student loan balances from recipients across the country (except Quebec, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories as they manage their own student loan programs).-- Personal contact information of 250 HRSDC employees was also on the hard drive.-- No banking or medical information was included on the drive.-- The client information was saved onto an external hard drive as a back- up storage option.
Timeline of events
-- November 5, 2012: A HRSDC employee discovered that an external hard drive was missing. Search efforts began.-- November 28: The Departmental Security Officer was notified.-- December 6: Discovery that personal information of Canada Student Loans Program clients was on the hard drive.-- December 14: The Office of the Privacy Commissioner was notified.-- January 7: The incident was referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.-- January 11: Canadian public was informed of the incident.
Process for inquiries and more information
HRSDC is sending letters to individuals affected, for whom we have current contact information, to advise them of the incident and what steps to take to help protect their personal information.
A toll-free number has been set-up at 1-866-885-1866 (or 416-572-1113 for those outside of North America) for individuals to verify if they are affected by this incident, and to ask additional questions regarding this issue. Hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (EST), 7 days a week, starting Monday, January 14, 2013, for as long as needed.
People with a hearing or speech impairment and using a teletypewriter (TTY) can call 1-800-263-5883. Hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m. (EST), 7 days a week, starting Monday, January 14, 2013, for as long as needed.
All details on this incident and how Canadians can protect their personal information are available at http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/main/spotlighton/privacy/index.shtml
New HRSDC policy for storing secure information
The Minister has directed that the overall policy for security and storage of personal information at HRSDC be strengthened and improved. The highlights are:
-- New, stricter protocols to be implemented immediately. Portable hard drives are no longer permitted. Unapproved USB keys are not to be connected to the network;-- Immediate risk assessments of all portable security devices used in the Department's work environment to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place; these assessments will continue on a regular, ongoing basis;-- Mandatory training for all employees regarding the proper handling of sensitive information, including personal information;-- Implement new data loss prevention technology, which can be configured to control or prevent the transfer of sensitive information;-- Disciplinary measures that will be implemented for staff, up to and including termination, should the strict codes of privacy and security not be followed.
Office of Minister Finley
Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada