A dozen Canadian ministers quietly met in Vancouver last week to brainstorm better online protections for the private information of citizens.
The Digital Trust and Cybersecurity symposium on Jan. 25 was attended by representatives from every province and territory, save Alberta, and took place roughly six months after the inaugural meeting in Quebec.
“Since June, we have been working together to build solutions that can scale and that can work together. We have seen real progress,” a spokesperson for B.C.’s Ministry of Citizens’ Services wrote in an email to CTV News Tuesday. “The symposium recognized that governments must take the lead to ensure that personal information is protected in the digital world.”
According to the statement, a Digital Credential and Trust Program Office has been established to “support cross-jurisdictional implementation teams,” of all sizes.
BC WALLET PILOT PROJECT
Right now, B.C. is the only province piloting an app that lets users receive, store and present digital credentials.
Dubbed the BC Wallet, the pilot program launched last September and is currently being tested by a small number of family duty counsel lawyers through the Law Society of British Columbia.
According to the Ministry of Citizens’ Services, work being done on the wallet is open-source and available for other Canadian jurisdictions, should other provinces and territories wish to test the tool themselves.
The general public can also access the BC Wallet app, but “most people will have limited or no practical use for it in the short to medium term,” according to the ministry.
In the meantime, digital credentials allow family duty counsel lawyers to “offer services to citizens from all corners of the province, including virtually, saving time and expense for all.”
When asked about cybersecurity trends in B.C., the ministry said the government does not have data on the number of cyberfraud victims, or a formal role in investigating breaches of non-ministry public bodies.
“Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and that requires ongoing vigilance and up-to-date technology to continue to fend off attacks and fraud schemes,” reads the statement.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS NEED PROTECTIONS
The Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District recently announced a breach of a database containing 19,126 records affecting both students and staff.
“While this data is internally available to students and staff in our active directory (email) phone book, in the wrong hands it can be used for targeted phishing attacks that attempt to trick the recipient into clicking on links or downloading attachments,” reads a statement SD42 issued on Jan. 18. “Our investigation into how this data was accessed is ongoing.”
MLT Atkins, a Western Canadian law firm, is highlighting the importance of educational institutions and other public sector organizations having privacy policies and breach response plans in place.
“Most breaches present a real risk of significant harm, and when they do, they must be reported to the relevant privacy commissioner and the affected individuals,” the law firm wrote on its blog.
A dedicated team, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, already exists to protect government systems from intrusions and cybersecurity risks, and operates networks 24 hours a day, seven days a week.