Human Resources and Skills Development Canada notified news sources a couple weeks ago that a hard drive with the personal information of 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers was lost in November. The portable device contained student names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances of borrowers from 2000 to 2006. The device also included the personal contact information of 250 department employees. This is following the loss of another USB key that contained the personal information of more than 5,000 people.
"While there is no evidence at this time that any of the information has been accessed or used for fraudulent purposes, this incident is being taken very seriously and the Office of the Minister has engaged the Royal Canadian Mounted Police," said in a statement from the department.
Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, said that new security policies would be put in place to ensure the safety of Canadians’ personal information.
“I want all Canadians to know that I have expressed my disappointment to departmental officials at this unacceptable and avoidable incident in handling Canadians’ personal information,” she said in a statement.
A new policy has been put in place that bans the use of portable hard drives within the department. Additionally, unapproved USB keys are not allowed to be connected to the computer network. Digital rights management technology will be introduced to control the transfer of sensitive information. Finally, staff will be subject to disciplinary measures, including possible firing, should privacy and security codes not be followed.