Loss of USB key prompted Ottawa to consider hiring dumpster divers, emails show

In an email assumed by , it says that senior bureaucrats considered paying a professional dumpster diving company $15,000 to find the missing USB drive. It contained the personal info of more than 5,000 Canadians.

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The email also shows that they also considered burning the garbage, in hopes of destroying the USB key and preventing the info from being found:

€Bryan is looking (at) burning the garbage if USB key is there this will protect the department (from ) affect or ‘repercussion,’” a Nov. 23 email from Service Canada corporate security manager Jeanne Dufour said, as indicated by The Vancouver Sun.

After interview between managers in Human Resources and expertise Development Canada, it has been decided that the dumpster divers were too costly and the burning would not work because, as indicated by the emails, Ottawa had no “incineration capacity.€

The USB key in question was a data storage device being used by Service Canada to store the info of 5,049 disability retirement applicants whose claims were under review. Last in the ownership of a lawyer working on the cases, the incident happened last November, causing a panic when the lawyer said she could not find the USB key after believing she had left it on her desk.

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Thinking that it may have been tossed in the garbage, the department sent a garbage bin with the day’s trash to an RCMP compound in Ottawa. After giving up on the idea of hiring dumpster divers or burning it, though, the trash with the USB key supposedly in it has been shipped to a local trash yard.

What had government employees most worried, but, was the lack of encryption on the USB drive. It was the policy of the department to encrypt data on movable drives, but in this case, it was not.

It is not surprising to see that the government could think about such great lengths to protect the missing data of Canadians, considering that there’s been a run of lost data in the last many number of years. In January, it has been stated that the names, loan balances and social insurance numbers of over half a million Canadians with student loans was lost by Human Resources Canada, ensuing in four lawsuits. That incident happened last November also.

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