A Caisse populaire Desjardins sign is seen in Montreal on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. The federal privacy watchdog says a series of technological and administrative gaps caused a high-profile data breach at Desjardins — the largest in the Canadian financial services sector. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A Caisse populaire Desjardins sign is seen in Montreal on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. The federal privacy watchdog says a series of technological and administrative gaps caused a high-profile data breach at Desjardins — the largest in the Canadian financial services sector. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Series of gaps allowed massive Desjardins data breach, privacy watchdog says

The incident compromised the data of nearly 9.7 million Canadians

A series of technological and administrative gaps caused a high-profile data breach at Desjardins — the largest to date in the Canadian financial services sector, the federal privacy watchdog has found.

In a report today, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien said Desjardins did not demonstrate the level of attention needed to protect the sensitive personal information entrusted to its care.

The incident compromised the data of nearly 9.7 million Canadians.

“Canadians expect banking information to have a high level of protection, given its sensitivity,” Therrien told a news conference today.

For at least 26 months, a malicious employee was siphoning sensitive personal information collected by Desjardins from customers who had purchased or received products through the organization, Therrien found.

This information was originally stored in two data warehouses to which the employee in question had limited access, the commissioner said.

However, other employees, in the course of fulfilling their work, would regularly copy that information onto a shared drive. As a result, employees who would not usually have the required clearance or the need to access some of the confidential data were able to do so, Therrien found.

The commissioner says the investigation into the breach sheds light on the risks of internal threats, whether they are intentional or not.

The investigation revealed that Desjardins failed to meet several of its obligations under the federal privacy law governing companies. Therrien found:

  • Desjardins did not ensure proper implementation of its policies and procedures for managing personal information, some of which were inadequate;
  • The access controls and data segregation of the company’s databases and directories were lacking;
  • Employee training and awareness were inadequate, considering the sensitive nature of the personal information;
  • Desjardins did not have proper procedures regarding the periodic destruction of personal information.

Desjardins agreed to a series of recommendations to improve information security and the protection of personal data, Therrien said.

The company has committed to provide progress reports every six months as well as hire external auditors to assess and certify its programs.

Therrien’s office and the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, which also published its report today, co-ordinated their respective probes.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: It’s the highway’s fault!

One component of Vision Zero (our current road safety strategy) is highway design.

Moira Mercer spent her summer riding her e-bike around Cowichan Lake and beyond, collecting any empties she found along the way. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan 2020 in review — conclusion

What were your top stories from 2020?

Staff meetings can be difficult when everyone has his own agenda. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Garden additions at request of staff

I’ll sow the catnip in flats on the seed table inside

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read