Security & privacy
Alberta government info not secure, AG
EDMONTON – Alberta’s auditor
general issued a report stating that confidential government records –
including health records – had been accessed by outside sources without
authorization. The auditor general, Fred Dunn, outlined the problems in
his annual report.
“There’s an unacceptably high risk,” Dunn said when asked about the
safety of Alberta’s government information. The auditor general’s
department looked at the government’s web application and network
security, wireless access point security and physical protection of data
facilities. It found “significant weaknesses” in each area.
According to the Edmonton Journal, while the auditor general’s
department found significant problems as far back as April and May, it
decided not to publicize the information for fear that hackers could
“attack Alberta,” Dunn said.
As for the outside sources whose electronic “footprints” had been found,
Dunn said the department does not know who they are or what they might
have done with the information.
Significant improvements have since been made in some security areas,
Dunn said. His report recommended establishing a central security office
to protect such data. “We’re not aware of anyone being negatively
impacted by this, but there’s a risk.”
However, Heather Klimchuk, the minister of Service Alberta, which is
responsible for the government’s computer infrastructure, said there is
no evidence Albertans’ personal information was at risk, and said her
staff has worked with Dunn to fix the problem, “updating, and checking
and tightening security ... through all the departments.”
Klimchuk told CBC News that, “Because of the proactive measures of this
new ministry, working with the auditor general, we have made huge
strides since he began his work in January.”
She downplayed the evidence Dunn found of “footprints” on the
“Essentially someone went in there and tried to mess around with the
website. They tried to upload some graffiti on a website page. That’s
the only access they had,” she said.
“It’s like a house in a garage. They may have gotten into the garage.
They did not get into the house.”
Klimchuk said she has the support of the premier and cabinet to hire a
chief security officer to handle computer security for the entire