Fourteen years ago this month, the first hacking scheme to be reported in mainstream newspapers appeared. This was the infamous “I Love You” hack, an email message with the subject line “ILOVEYOU” and the attachment “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”. In May of 2000, this hack affected tens of millions of computers and caused untold damage.
Since then, hacks such as I Love You, which are called Phishing, are routinely reported. IT departments regularly send out messages warning users not to open suspicious emails or click on attachments if they are unsure. Nevertheless, the number of successful phishing hacks continues to grow.
The Globe and Mail published articles highlighting this problem. In one article, officials at Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) were concerned that the department was subjected to an organized cyber-spying campaign in 2011. The article suggests that the hackers, who are suspected to be the Chinese backed “People’s Liberation Army”, gained access to the IRB’s computers through a phishing email sent to an Immigration adjudicator in Vancouver.
Although it has been said many times, if you are the least bit unsure of the validity of an email, don’t open it, and seek assistance immediately.
The answer depends on where you live and what you are doing. In Canada, the view seems to be that our privacy is increasingly eroding. As the Globe and Mail reported today, the federal government is set to push forward two bills that will provide police with new powers to obtain and monitor Canadians’ private data. While Bill C-13 is being tabled as a cyberbullying law, it also contains clauses giving governments greater powers to monitor cellphones and other electronic data and to track people. That “bundling” has drawn criticism from Ontario and BC’s privacy commissioners who have called for Bill C-13 to be split apart so that the cyberbullying provisions are separated from changes to law enforcement powers affecting Canadian’s privacy. These bills come on the heels of a warning from the federal privacy commissioner that Ottawa’s collection of data from Canadians’ social media accounts may violate the Privacy Act. This is of great interest to our clients and should be to all Canadians, given the potential impact on how much of our private information is protected.
In contrast to Canada, privacy rights have been bolstered by a ruling of the European Union’s Court of Justice, which found that people have “a right to be forgotten”. The Globe and Mail also reported today that the EU court ruled that individuals have the right to ask Google to delete out of date, irrelevant or inadequate search-engine references to themselves. While the ruling only applies to search results, not to the underlying pages with actual references, it could make it more difficult to find information on-line because, if requested, Google must close the link to on-line material. Only time will tell just how effective a “scrub” this may be, however.
These articles highlight that we need to be more aware of our on-line footprints.
Susan Wortzman was quoted in the May edition of Lexpert about the increasing use of LPO by in-house counsel. Wortzman said: “The whole concept of charging clients on an hourly basis became so cost-prohibitive for certain tasks that the LPO model makes sense for law firms and organizations. Whether it is used in the e-discovery, litigation or from a corporate perspective, using LPO services typically ensures the work is completed quickly and at a far more manageable cost.” To read the whole article, click here.