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

Metchosin moves to regulate short-term vacation rentals

Airbnb operators could be required to have a business licence

Shamrocks have their eye on another Mann Cup

Home opener kicks off the season this Friday in Colwood

Sooke mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

Mighty garage sale returns to Metchosin

Find everything from household goods to instruments

Victoria man arrested for sexual assault on BC Transit bus

Incident took place downtown, in broad daylight in front of fellow passengers

VIDEO: Tide pool school draws a crowd to explore seaside in Oak Bay

Friends of Uplands Park hosted the inter-tidal exploration at Cattle Point on… Continue reading

Editorial: Amateur sports benefits the entire community

The crack of the bat and the sounds of cheers fill the… Continue reading

Woman’s death near Tofino prompts warning about ‘unpredictable’ ocean

Ann Wittenberg was visiting Tofino for her daughter Victoria Emon’s wedding

B.C. man facing deportation says terror accusation left him traumatized

Othman Hamdan was acquitted of terrorism-related charges by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in September

Will Taylor Swift’s high concert ticket prices stop scalpers?

Move by artist comes as B.C. looks to how to regulate scalpers and bots reselling concert tickets

Saanich councillor says amalgamation motion has ‘failed’

A Saanich councillor has questioned ongoing amalgamation talks with the City of… Continue reading

36 fires sparked May long weekend, most due to lightning: BC Wildfire

As warmer weather nears, chief fire officer Kevin Skrepnek says too soon to forecast summer

Ariana Grande sends message of hope on anniversary of Manchester bombing

Prince William joins survivors and emergency workers for remembrance service

B.C. flood risk switches from snowmelt to rainfall: River Forecast Centre

Kootenays and Fraser River remain serious concerns

Most Read