B.C.’s Ministry of H.R. reviews security after server theft

A plan to centralize the management of IT infrastructure in the government of B.C. is under serious review after a server theft from a Ministry of Human Resources office building.

The server, along with eight laptops, was stolen

the night of Feb. 5 from a two-storey Coquitlam, B.C., office. According to ministry spokesman Richard Chambers, the server contained names, addresses, social insurance numbers, and financial information. That information belongs to 568 income assistance clients who receive welfare cheques and a number of ministry staff.

According to Corp. Pierre Lamaitre of the RCMP’s Coquitlam office, eight office doors were kicked down and the alarm and phone lines had been cut. This followed a similar break-in the previous evening, but nothing had been stolen. Lamaitre said the criminals were likely testing the building’s security.

On March 7, the ministry sent letters out to the affected people warning them to keep close tabs on their financial records and report anything out of the ordinary. The ministry had brought in a team of IT experts from the B.C. government to comb over the data for almost a month to find out what was taken. “”It took us that long to be able to put this picture together,”” said Chambers.

“”The good news from our clients’ point of view is that we did have backups of their files, which we were able to get up and running. No services to our clients were affected by the break-in,”” he said.

The Ministry of Management Services is scheduled to take over the management of IT infrastructure for the entire B.C. government starting April 1. Individual service level agreements will be figured out between each department, Management Services and the Office of the CIO. Closer scrutiny will be paid to security — both physical and data — following the Coquitlam theft, said a source in the ministry who refused to be named.

“”We’re at the stage right now where we’re going to be responsible for (security) as of April 1 and we will be putting in what we feel are the right solutions to ensure that,”” he said. “”The recommendations for storage and back-up will be commensurate with the value of the information.””

The source added that the government of B.C. has a set of guidelines in place for security policy called GMOP (General Management Operating Policy).

The Ministry of Human Resources is conducting its own review of security practices, said Chambers. So far, the locks have been changed on the doors in the Coquitlam office and security passcodes have been updated. Charges will be presented in court on Thursday, said Lemaitre, and arrest warrants will be sought for suspects.

This is the second time a major Canadian IT theft has been r

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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