Queen’s Park has no idea how many people were affected by a security breach at four GTA ServiceOntario kiosks that provide drivers’ licences and health cards.
Yesterday, Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar said all 72 of the electronic booths across the province have been shut down indefinitely to check for signs of credit-card tampering.
Facilities at Erin Mills Town Centre, Albion Centre Mall in Etobicoke, the Vaughan Mills shopping centre, and Promenade Mall in Thornhill were compromised. Police were notified Wednesday.
Takhar, the MPP for the riding of Mississauga-Erindale, admitted the government doesn’t know the number of potential fraud victims.
“This is the information between the card holder and the financial institution. We don’t really know that information. This is not information we are privy to. If one person is compromised that’s too many,” the minister told reporters.
“It is suspected the attempts made were to gain access to key credit and debit card data that allows replication of debit and credit cards,” Takhar said in the legislature.
“There is no indication that any personal details held by the Ontario government have been compromised,” he said, insisting health and motoring records are safe. “People tried to copy some of the information that is on the debit cards and credit cards, so they can replicate the debit and credit cards.”
While some ServiceOntario outlets are privately owned, Takhar said the kiosks are operated by the government.
“We took very quick action, we shut down all the kiosks, so we can actually go and inspect all those kiosks and make sure there is no other tampering or compromising,” he said, adding Ontarians can go online to access services or visit one of the 300 ServiceOntario centres.
Police in Peel and Toronto and have been warning of criminals using high-tech methods to “skim” credit and debit cards in the GTA.
Takhar said the government was made aware of the breach Wednesday afternoon and immediately shut down the booths, but did not tell the public until 10:45 p.m.
“As soon as we learned it we wanted to find out how many kiosks were compromised, we wanted to take some action and the staff was working very quickly to inform the public as soon as we could do it and they did that, ” he said. “They were shut down as soon as we found out – within a half an hour.”
Progressive Conservative MPP Jane McKenna (Burlington) said Ontarians were left in the dark for an unacceptably long eight hours.
“It’s just a regular pattern of what they do and we have to be responsible as taxpayers to make them accountable for what they’re doing with their behaviour, ” McKenna said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said with the Liberals’ push to further privatize more of what ServiceOntario delivers, people should be concerned when even a government-owned booth can be cracked.
“A security breach at ServiceOntario kiosks has people across Ontario thinking about these very issues,” Horwath said. “They need to know that their personal information is safe and that it’s secure. Why should people support further sell-offs?”
In 2010, 93 people unwittingly had their addresses changed by would-be identity thieves using the ServiceOntario website.
That forced the government to temporarily halt the address-change function online and at kiosks and beef up security protocols.
— Torstar News Service