Elections Ontario, the agency in charge of the voting process in the Ontario region of Canada, has notified electors that their personal information may have been compromised after a couple of USB drives have been reported as being lost.
The sticks contained the name, gender, birth date, address, and the election administrative codes of 2.4 million individuals who on October 6, 2011, were living in one of the 20-25 affected electoral districts.
Of the impacted people, 115,431 are from Brampton West, 128,643 from Halton, 95,966 from Kingston and the Islands, and 110662 from the Nepean Carleton district.
Fortunately, social insurance numbers, driver’s license information, phone numbers and banking details were not stored on the devices.
“On learning of this breach, I directed immediate steps be taken to secure and to try to recover the information. I have contacted the Ontario Provincial Police. Their investigation is ongoing. I will take further action based on their recommendations,” Greg Essensa, chief electoral officer of Ontario wrote in a letter.
The USB sticks, reported as missing on April 27, 2012, were not encrypted or password protected, although specialized software was available on them. However, their content could be read only with specialized commercial applications or the organization’s proprietary software.
While the information may not appear to be highly sensitive, experts believe that it could be more than enough to commit identity theft.
“You could be using it to manufacture fake ID so that you can use that to open (bank) accounts,” Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sergeant Paul Lobsinger said, according to The Record.
So far, there haven’t been any signs of misuse, but the impacted voters are advised to keep a close eye on their transaction statements and report any unusual activity immediately.