#CyberFLASH: Lost hard drive with student loan data lacked password protection

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A portable computer hard drive containing the personal information of more than 500,000 student loan recipients was left unsecured for extended periods of time by government employees and was not protected by a password or encryption, Canada’s top privacy watchdog says.

In a report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, interim federal privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier detailed the various security procedures Employment and Social Development Canada failed to follow when dealing with the confidential information — failures she said should serve as a lesson for every public sector department and agency.

The report says the ESDC hard drive went missing in 2012. It contained the personal information — including social insurance number, name, date of birth, home address, telephone number, loan amounts and balances — of 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers from 2000 to 2006. 

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