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

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

District of Houston
Council adds flexibility to spending decisions

Singles out road works as potential beneficiary

Filling potholes in Houston
Holes filled on Highway 16

Potholes aren’t restricted to District of Houston streets. Lakes District Maintenance crews… Continue reading

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

New HousingHub financing funds will encourage developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Video captured Wednesday, April 14, shows a white BMW driving along the seawall between Vancouver’s Plaza of Nations and Science World. (Krimda Toravantian/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Motorist takes a drive along Vancouver seawall

Pedestrians near False Creek expressed disbelief after seeing the car join them on the walking path

Most Read