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LifeLabs breach 'potential watershed moment': cyber security expert

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

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo illustration, hands type on a computer keyboard in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

A cyber security expert says the investigation into LifeLabs could lead to a watershed moment in Canadian security

The company announced Tuesday that 15 million customers' personal information was at risk after it was hacked

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After what could be the biggest security breach in Canada’s history, one security expert says it’s crucial there’s a thorough investigation into what happened.

LifeLabs revealed Tuesday that millions of Canadians may have had their personal information, including addresses, birth dates and log ins, compromised after a security breach at the medical testing company in October.

The company says it paid a ransom to the hackers in order to secure the data, and has engaged experts to make sure customers don’t have their identities stolen.

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

Dominic Vogel, founder and chief strategist at Cyber SC, says the size of this breach could mean big changes in security protocols.

“In the health care sector, from a Canadian perspective, this has the potential for a watershed-type moment,” he says, adding what matters now is how the company responds.

“One of the more recent examples is with Desjardins, that happened earlier this year. That was a massive data breach on a large scale as well, and what happened there – it was important how Desjardins responded to it. They owned it and they went to great lengths to make sure that they could reduce the likelihood and impact of people being affected by identity theft,” Vogel says. “It will be interesting to see if LifeLabs goes to that same extent to demonstrate to the general public and those who use their services that they’re doing everything they can to reduce the likelihood of them being hit by identity theft.”

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

He thinks the LifeLabs hack could be the biggest data breach in the country’s history.

“This one, the early numbers say it could be up to 15 million Canadians – that’s half the country right there.”

Privacy commissioners from both Ontario and B.C., the two provinces with the most customers impacted in the breach, are currently investigating the incident, and while it’s not yet clear whether LifeLabs is at fault, Vogel says what they find could change how breaches are dealt with in future.

“You’ll see both privacy commissioners go through a very thorough review here, and if they see it necessary to make an example out of LifeLabs, they will. I think we’re very much coming to this point in time where, especially the privacy commissioners, are saying enough is enough. And especially any organization that the public system relies on, they’re going to hold them to the highest degree of accountability.”

The RCMP in British Columbia and the Ontario Provincial Police are also conducting criminal investigations.

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