Ernst & Young accused by Canadian of massive data breach

Ellen Messmer reports:

A used computer dealer in Canada claims he discovered a trove of Ernst & Young customer business data on Dell servers bought back in 2006 — and he wants the global consultancy to pay him to return the data. But is the breach for real or just a hoax?

Mark Morris, who describes himself as the owner of a small used computer dealership in Calgary that doesn’t have a website, claims that in March of this year he discovered a huge amount of business data associated with Ernst & Young clients that had been left mainly on one of two servers he bought for $300 after Synergy Partners, the firm he had been working for as an independent contractor, was bought by Ernst & Young in 2003. Morris says he has reported the breach to a Canadian privacy commission.

Read more on Network World.

Mr. Morris had also contacted yesterday about this matter. In e-mail communications, he indicated that the server contains:

hundreds of companies financials, non disclosure agreements, confidentiality agreements, personnel files for their employees with social insurance numbers, applicants resumes with social insurance numbers.

He did not provide any proof by way of screen shots, preferring, he claimed, to rely on what is already publicly available in court documents.

It would be helpful to have some legal analysis by a non-party. Under Canadian law, if an entity accidentally fails to scrub a device and sells it, what law or laws prohibit(s) the purchaser from doing anything they damned well want with the server and information?

While it appears that Mr. Morris is trying to monetize or capitalize on a mistake by Ernst & Young,  and some may question his ethics in not just returning the server, is there really any law that applies in Alberta, Canada?

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