As someone who routinely makes snarky pronouncements about breaches, I was actually impressed by how Toronto Hydro handled their recent data breach. Yet some people were strongly critical.
The facts of the breach, as I currently understand them are that:
- 179,000 Toronto Hydro customer account numbers were illegally accessed in the company’s e-billing system.
- Toronto Hydro detected unusual activity in its electronic billing system, and the system automatically shut itself down due to the abnormal activity.
- So far, it seems that no financial data were accessed, but names, addresses, account numbers, and amount of last bill were accessed.
- The company is notifying all customers about the incident and not just those whose data were accessed.
So although the system couldn’t prevent the breach, it detected it quickly and shut itself down, the company quickly notified law enforcement, went public with the disclosure, and is notifying everyone. I’d say that’s pretty damned commendable since most people agree that it’s really impossible to prevent all breaches.
Yet at least one consumer protection advocates was highly critical. As The Toronto Star reported:
“It’s a total outrage when the provincial government has been paying lip service to fighting identity theft and a major public utility has exposed close to 200,000 people to that very sort of thing,” said NDP consumer protection critic Peter Kormos in an interview.
“Clearly there have to be some enforceable standards set…to compel bodies like Toronto Hydro so as to protect the information of their customers.”
With standards comes a need for penalties to encourage compliance, added Kormos, a lawyer.
“There have to be consequences for bodies that don’t protect the standards,” the veteran MPP said.
Was the breach due to failure to patch? Or is he assuming that if there is any breach, that the organization was negligent in its security? Why is he so critical when I was actually favorably impressed? What does he think they should have or could have done differently? Mr. Kormos did not respond to a request for clarification on his comments.