B.C. government website hacked

Officials now aware of ‘suspicious activity’ and ‘unauthorized access’ after a week of neither confirming nor denying a cyber security threat during an extraordinary interruption to government services

The B.C. Legislature website and email system has been hacked, but officials are asserting, at this time, there is no evidence sensitive government and personal information has been accessed.

The site has been offline for over one week and officials provided no details until Thursday morning.

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“The Legislative Assembly’s information technology staff became aware of suspicious activity on the Legislative Assembly’s network and immediately initiated an investigation. Out of an abundance of caution, and to enable a safe and rigorous investigation into the circumstances, the network was taken offline on November 10,” states the website landing page Thursday.

“An initial investigation has been completed, which confirmed unauthorized access to a small number of servers. The swift action by the Legislative Assembly’s information technology staff enabled the Assembly to successfully contain the situation.

“At this time, there is no evidence of unauthorized access to or loss of Legislative Assembly or personal data as a result of this incident.

“Steps are now being taken to gradually bring our network services online in a secure manner as expeditiously as possible. The investigation is ongoing, and further information will be provided in the coming days.”

The Legislature holds any correspondence from the public to their local representatives (constituency offices), as well as sensitive government documents.

The apparent cyber problems are occurring as government transitions to a new administration, following the October 24 provincial election.

House Leader Mike Farnworth of the BC NDP has so far declined to comment to Glacier Media.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) enforces standards for privacy of public information in the province. It stated Thursday afternoon an investigation has been opened.

“The Legislative Assembly has contacted us on this matter,” said OIPC spokesperson Noel Boivin. “We have opened a file and are in communication to address the circumstances involved. As this is an active matter, we are unable to comment further.”

Boivin cited Section 47 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) that “prevents the Commissioner from disclosing any information obtained in performing his duties, powers and functions under the Act.”

The Legislature is not subject to requests for information under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act — a matter that has previously been raised during a corruption scandal involving former Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk Craig James, who remain subjects to an ongoing RCMP investigation stemming from allegations that became public in November 2018.


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