A hundred thousand current and former employees of Nova Scotia Health, the IWK Health Centre, and the public service have had their payroll information stolen — including their social insurance numbers, addresses, and banking information.

That data were stolen in a global breach of the MOVEit file transfer system, which Colton LeBlanc, Nova Scotia’s minister of Cyber Security and Digital Solutions, announced Sunday. The hack reportedly was at the hands of the Clop ransomware gang. The data were stolen on May 30 and May 31, before Ipswitch, the company that sells MOVEit, provided a patch to the system.

LeBlanc called a press conference today to announce what has been learned so far in the investigation into the hack. He stressed that the 100,000 figure could go up or down as more is learned, and there could be further revelations about other stolen data — asked repeatedly if the public’s information was stolen, LeBlanc would only say that the investigation is still in a preliminary stage but wanted to let the public know what it has found at this point.

“Today is about being transparent with Nova Scotians, providing additional information, understanding that, no, we do not have all the answers at this time,” said LeBlanc. “But it is our commitment to provide Nova Scotians updates on an ongoing basis.”

Employees whose information was stolen will be contacted by the province and provided with free credit monitoring and fraud protection services.

“In the meantime,” said LeBlanc, “I encourage civil servants, Nova Scotia Health staff, the IWK staff, as well as Nova Scotians in general, to monitor their banking information closely. I also recommend reaching out to your banking institution proactively to flag the risk.” 

Natasha Clarke, the deputy minister of Cyber Security and Digital Solutions, said the province has not been approached about a potential ransom for the stolen data.

Asked if Nova Scotia Health replaced its former SEND file transfer system with MOVEit in a bid to privatize public IT services, Clarke said that wasn’t the motivation.

“I know that [change] was not as a result of privatization of those services,” replied Clarke. The SEND service at that time was an aged and legacy piece of technology. The MOVEit system and software is actually a world class or the top of, in the top of the software solutions that provide this functionality. I know the irony of that statement today. And so that decision at that time was to improve upon that legacy technology; for those that might not understand, that is really just about all pieces of technology that don’t get updates, these critical updates which are really important. So, this was not about privatization.”

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. What proportion of employees was this? I was under the impression that there were only tens of thousands of provincial public servants currently. One hundred thousand would imply to me that an awful high proportion of current and past employees data would have been breached.