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RDN strengthens security after being alerted to publicly accessible property ownership information

Regional District of Nanaimo investigates, reports to privacy commissioner after anonymous e-mails
(Black Press file)

Regional District of Nanaimo has forwarded reports to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner involving access to information about property owners.

According to a press release, the RDN conducted an internal investigation in response to anonymous e-mails received in November.

“The e-mails raised concerns about access to information through the RDN GIS (geographical information system) platform, an online search tool available to the public that contains information on properties within the RDN,” the press release said. “The RDN’s IT department responded immediately and locked down systems while the vulnerability was investigated. The investigation determined that land ownership information that was accessed through the GIS platform was not private in nature and is within the public domain.”

This past Tuesday, another access to the system was alleged by the same individual, said the press release, with the RDN again investigating to ensure the system was secure. The regional district has increased its security system based on information gathered through the investigation and removed ownership information on the GIS platform. The public may still use the platform and other online systems safely, it said.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has assigned an investigator, with information provided to the RCMP who are also investigating the matter.

“The RDN takes the protection of information very seriously and has systems and procedures in place to ensure the security of its data and respond to any potential vulnerability,” said Tyler Brown, RDN board chairman, in the press release.

The RDN uses many tools and technologies to secure information and keep pace with emerging vulnerabilities and threats, it said. Its mandate is to protect private information, but to be as open and transparent as possible.

The RDN is also engaging with an external organization that specializes in network and cybersecurity to proactively review its security and systems with recommendations on how it may further protect information.

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