LifeLabs signage is seen outside of one of the lab’s Toronto locations on Dec. 17. (Cole Burston/CP)

LifeLabs call centre reps wrongly saying Yukoners not affected by health data breach

LifeLabs has since updated website, contacted centre to clarify Yukon patients are possibly affected

Canadian lab testing company LifeLabs has updated its website and contacted its call centre to clarify that Yukon patients may have been affected by a recent cyberattack on its computer systems.

The changes come after the News learned that LifeLabs call centre representatives were telling Yukon callers that no one outside of British Columbia or Ontario could have been impacted.

The cyberattack, which took place in late October, targeted computer systems containing the health information of approximately 15 million Canadians, LifeLabs revealed on Dec. 17. The information of nearly 2,900 Yukoners may have been accessed during the breach, Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) Diane McLeod-McKay announced the same day, with the information of 34 patients confirmed to have been accessed after it was recovered from hackers.

LifeLabs has set up a call centre to handle questions about the cyberattack, which McLeod-McKay had advised Yukoners to call for further information (the Yukon IPC does not have the names of affected Yukoners).

This reporter contacted the centre on Dec. 18 and, after saying she was a Yukon resident, was told by a representative that the breach could have only affected people who had visited LifeLabs testing centres in British Columbia or Ontario in the past decade. The representative again stated that Yukon residents were not impacted even after being told about the Yukon IPC’s announcement, and added she did not have the ability to tell specific individuals whether their information was part of the breach.

The News also heard from a reader who had a similar experience with the call centre.

In an email Dec. 23, Yukon IPC communications manager Elaine Schiman wrote that McLeod-McKay had spoken with her contact at LifeLabs and informed him of the problems. The contact “indicated that the LifeLabs website would be updated to clarify more specifically the areas affected,” she wrote, and that LifeLabs “would contact the call centre for the cyber-attack to ensure the representatives answering the phones are clear on this information.”

Schiman added that any Yukoners experiencing further issues with the LifeLabs call centre can contact the Yukon IPC’s office at 867-667-8468 and info@ombudsman.yk.ca.

The News tried contacting the LifeLabs call centre again on Dec. 23. This time, a representative again repeated that she wasn’t able to check whether specific individuals had been impacted by the breach, but offered this reporter access to a free one-year trial of cybersecurity protection from TransUnion – the same thing being offered to all concerned customers who call.

On its website, LifeLabs states that 85,000 Ontario lab test customers from 2016, separate from the 15 million Canadians, will be directly contacted by the company in the “coming weeks.” It’s unclear how the 15 million Canadians, including the Yukon residents, can check if their information was potentially accessed.

The LifeLabs call centre can be reached at 1-888-918-0467. The company has also added two numbers for British Columbia and Ontario — 1-800-431-7206 and 1-877-849-3637.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

cybersecurity

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