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Cybersecurity Breach: MOVEit costs N.S. taxpayers more than $3 million; personal info from thousands still at risk

More than 165,000 letters have been sent to Nova Scotians caught up in the MOVEit global cybersecurity breach.

The breach took place between May 30 and May 31, and was first reported by the Nova Scotia government a few days later.

The province says $2.85 million has been spent so far for credit monitoring services related to the online hack.

That is in addition to the $240,000 paid by Nova Scotia to IBM following the breach for incident response support.

IBM remains on retainer, which costs $5,600 a month to ensure that they're available immediately if needed.

In a news release Thursday, Nova Scotia’s Cyber Security and Digital Solutions Minister Colton LeBlanc said once the province discovered the breach, the goal was to notify those impacted as quickly as possible so they could take steps to protect their identity.

“We've now finished that process," said LeBlanc. "Now, we can turn our focus to setting out the lessons we've learned and ensuring departments are doing what they need to do to keep Nova Scotians' personal information safe.”

The province offered five years of credit monitoring and fraud protection to people whose sensitive personal information was stolen.

In an email late Thursday afternoon, the province said to date, there have been no confirmed financial losses or confirmed claims of information being used to commit an offence using personal information obtained through the breach.

There have been no confirmed government department losses related to the breach.

SOFTWARE COMPANY

The cybersecurity breach involved a file transfer service called MOVEit that is used around the world by the private sector and governments.

The software is made by Burlington, Massachusetts-based company Ipswitch and allows organizations to transfer files and data between employees, departments and customers.

Progress Software, the parent company of Ipswitch, confirmed a vulnerability in its software in late May, saying the issue could lead to potential unauthorized access of users' systems and files.

After the company notified the government of Nova Scotia of a critical vulnerability within its system, the province took the service offline and installed a security update before bringing it back online.

The province continues to use MOVEit, which it says is essential to delivering core government services.

In August, the province said certified teachers born in 1935 or later were among those whose personal information was stolen, which included personal details about deceased people.

A group known as Clop, which claimed to be behind the attack, said they deleted all the stolen data from governments, cities, and police services but are keeping information from private companies.

In an interview with CTV near the end of June, cybersecurity expert Scott Beck questioned whether the word of this group can be trusted.

“There’s no way to know if they’ve actually deleted the data or not,” Beck said.

Beck suggested people still monitor their accounts for unusual activity.

N.S. government quick facts:

  • more than 118,000 letters with TransUnion credit monitoring codes have been sent to people whose sensitive personal information, such as social insurance numbers or banking information, was stolen in the breach
  • just over 47,000 letters without credit monitoring codes have been sent to Nova Scotians who had less sensitive information stolen, which put them at lower risk of identity theft
  • more than 29,000 people have signed up for credit monitoring
  • credit monitoring codes expire Oct. 31 for those who have received them

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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