White Rock residents advised of ‘possible privacy breach’

City officials say it's 'highly improbable' that personal information on hard drives stolen in March can be recovered by the thieves.

The City of White Rock advised residents Friday morning of a “possible privacy breach” resulting from the theft more than two months earlier of four hard drives from the White Rock Community Centre.

Discovered on March 8 – and announced to the public in a May 22 news release – the March 7 theft was investigated by the RCMP and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, city clerk Tracey Arthur confirmed.

While personal information of residents and staff was on the hard drives, due to the nature of what was stolen, it is not believed to pose a significant risk.

Chris Zota, the city’s manager of information technology, described the likelihood of the information being accessed to any usable degree as “very improbable.”

The hard drives were taken at random from among a larger network that has data written across all of it, with not one holding complete information on its own, Zota told Peace Arch News Friday afternoon.

“To extract useful information off the hard drives, you need all 10,” he said. “Take a drive out and you plug it into your computer at home, you’re not going to see anything.”

Detailed inside information on the drives’ configuration, server names and more would also be required, Zota said.

Zota said nothing else was taken in the early morning theft, which occurred through a rear door of the 15154 Russell Ave. community centre. Security measures including relocating the affected equipment and installing CCTV cameras have since been taken.

Arthur told PAN that residents would have been notified of the breach sooner had there been a serious concern regarding access to the information.

Friday’s news release was done on the recommendation of the privacy commissioner, she noted.

Anyone concerned their information has been accessed or used unlawfully as a result of financial transactions with the city may contact Arthur at 604-541-2212.

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