Stolen laptops didn’t use encryption
EDMONTON – Alberta’s privacy
commissioner is annoyed by news that two laptops containing personal
patient information were stolen from a lab at the University of Alberta
Hospital. What’s surprising is the information wasn’t encrypted, said
commissioner Frank Work. “This is shocking to me. I don’t know what we
have to do to drive this message home.”
The computers were stolen on June 4. The laptops were taken after a
break-in at the Provincial Lab Information Technology room.
The laptops contained names, birth dates, personal health numbers and
lab reports for communicable and reportable diseases on more than
300,000 people. The information will be difficult to access, because of
the need for several passwords to be entered, Alberta Health reports in
a media release. Still, health officials warned that Albertans need to
watch for any form of identity theft.
“While Alberta Health Services did have layers of protection on those
laptops, the final layer simply wasn’t there,” Work said.
“The standard in Alberta ‘is encryption’ This is highly sensitive
information and an issue of public trust,” the commissioner said. “How
can the public have faith in public bodies if they can’t provide
security for personal information?”
The privacy commissioner has launched an investigation into the matter.
“We will be working very closely with AHS to make sure they understand
their obligations and to ensure that steps are taken to prevent this
from happening again,” Work said.
Posted July 16/09.