04/22/2014 12:39 EDT | Updated 06/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Rules followed despite laptop theft: agency contracted by New Brunswick Labour

FREDERICTON - All protocols were followed despite the theft of a computer containing the personal information of up to 92 people in New Brunswick, says the executive director of an agency working for the province's Labour Department.

Heather Hubert of Community Business Development Corporation Southwest said Tuesday the laptop was stored out of view in a car when an employee stayed overnight with a friend in Saint John, N.B., on Jan. 17.

The car was broken into and the laptop taken.

"This was a crime of opportunity," Hubert said.

Hubert said the computer contained names, social insurance numbers, birthdates and financial information for people enrolled in a self-employment training program. But she said two passwords are required to access the computer's files.

"It's a series of numbers, symbols, capital letters and small letters," Hubert said. "It's not something you can easily get."

She said it's unclear exactly how many names were on the computer, but as a precaution, the agency went back in its files to create a list of 92 people it dealt with during the previous year.

She said while the laptop has not been recovered, there has been no indication that any of the information on it has been accessed or used.

But the Liberal party's labour critic, Victor Boudreau, said it shouldn't have taken a media report before Labour Minister Jody Carr spoke about the issue.

"Three months is an awful long time," Boudreau said outside the legislature.

Carr said the people who may have been affected by the theft were notified right away.

"The 92 individuals who potentially had their information compromised had been contacted personally by telephone and by letter and that was my biggest concern," he said, adding that the department also responded to media inquiries for information.

Carr said the computer was normally used to connect to an online program, so it's unclear if any personal information was actually stored on the laptop.

A spokesman for the Labour Department said it notified the 92 people who could be affected and they have been offered credit-monitoring services.

Tyler Campbell said employees of the agency are required to read a privacy manual and abide by the province's laws governing the protection of personal information.

He said the department's information technology branch has reviewed the breach and ensured there is no further security risk.