LifeLabs hack: Data protection 'a big problem for a lot of companies'
TORONTO -- A proposed $1.13 billion class action lawsuit against medical services company LifeLabs aims to get “compensation and punish the business,” according to a Toronto lawyer.
Hackers assessed the personal information of up to 15 million Canadian LifeLabs customers, mostly in Ontario and British Columbia, before LifeLabs says it paid a ransom to get the data back.
A statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Dec. 27 accuses LifeLabs of negligence, breach of contract and violating their customers' confidence as well as privacy and consumer protection laws.
“It’s mainly about trying to get some compensation, but also about punishing the company,” lawyer Ari Singer told CTV’s Your Morning.
“When you’re dealing with a large scale attack and claim like this, the individual damages might not be so high, but they add up over a long period.
“It’s a really scary time and it’s actually a big problem for a lot of companies. We’re not nearly as secure as we’d like to think we are. And they have a lot of our data.”
The compromised database included health card numbers, names, email addresses, logins, passwords and dates of birth, but it was unclear how many files were accessed. The lab results of 85,000 customers in Ontario were also obtained by the hackers, the company said.
“It is a lesson and it’s a big issue in the insurance and risk industries,” Singer said.
“There are certain standards that exist because of privacy legislation, but a lot of it isn’t very concrete.”
LifeLabs chief executive Charles Brown apologized for the breach earlier this month.
“Insurance companies are getting into the cyber industry in much greater detail,” Singer said.
“We’re definitely in a learning stage right now, which is very scary because it is a lot of information.”
Several dedicated LifeLabs customer phone lines -- 1-800-431-7206 (British Columbia), 1-877-849-3637 (Ontario) and 1-888-918-0467 -- have been set up for people who want further information.
The company is also offering 12 months of “protection that includes dark web monitoring and identity theft insurance” through TransUnion.
Lifelabs is owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, one of the biggest pension funds in Canada with $92 billion in assets.
- With files from The Canadian Press