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LifeLabs told B.C. gov't about breach in October: health minister

Last Updated Dec 17, 2019 at 6:46 pm PDT

The Toronto headquarters of LifeLabs is seen here in a screenshot from Google Maps. (Source: Google Maps)

The B.C. government has been aware of a data breach affecting millions of British Columbians since Oct. 28

The provincial health minister is defending withholding that information until it was released Dec. 17

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s health minister says the province was notified of a security breach affecting as many as 15 million patients at LifeLabs nearly six weeks before that information was made public on Tuesday.

Adrian Dix says the provincial government was notified Oct. 28 that hackers had accessed private test results from 2016 and earlier, belonging to customers in B.C. and Ontario. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner was notified Nov. 1.

RELATED: LifeLabs reveals data breach, pays ransom to secure personal info of 15M people

Dix justified the delay in letting people know about the hack, saying LifeLabs needed time to consult experts and improve protections first.

“The only reason there was a delay was to ensure the information that hadn’t been compromised wouldn’t be compromised, and that information that was protected, was protected,” he says.

“Hire some security firms to assist them in securing data, take the necessary action, and they were given time to do that.”

RELATED: LifeLabs breach ‘potential watershed moment’: cyber security expert

That’s to protect the information already taken, and to prevent secondary attacks, according to Dix.

He says LifeLabs has a responsibility to the province and patients, and now needs to ensure they can uphold the privacy requirements of their contract.

The minister says there is a challenge in ensuring information is available to patients, while also keeping that information protected.

LifeLabs performed 34 million tests in the province last year, and operates 34 per cent of similar labs in B.C.

If you’re concerned about your information being compromised, you can reach out to LifeLabs at 1-888-918-0467.

– With files from Espe Currie, Bruce Claggett, Lauren Boothby