B.C. Ferries’ data security system flawed, audit finds

Gary Mason reports:

B.C. Ferries customers who pay with a credit card are being put at risk by flaws in the company’s data security system.

Recent internal audits conducted by the ferry corporation have identified glaring deficiencies in the way in which the company is protecting sensitive customer credit card information.


In order to be compliant with industry standards, there needs to be zero gaps identified in any audit. However, one audit the company conducted last fall revealed as many as 45 deficiencies in its data security system.


According to an internal company document, PCIDSS sets out requirements that any organization processing credit or debit cards must follow in order to be compliant. For instance, all personnel authorized to access credit card information should have unique identification to ensure users are traceable. The Ferries audit found that the same user ID was being used by multiple people.

PCIDSS insists all access passwords be stored in an unreadable format. The audit uncovered instances of passwords stored in plain text formats. Also, all database access should be monitored. The report found that “auditing was not enabled on the database.”

Perhaps most concerning of all, security standards insist that an archiving policy must be in place and data should only be stored as long as required. But B.C. Ferries has several years worth of unnecessary credit card data remaining in various databases. The report says that data are being duplicated across a half dozen databases.

Read more in The Globe and Mail.

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