Professional Dumpster Divers


Human Resources and Skills Development Canada lost a USB containing the information of 5,049 disability pension applicants. The data was not encrypted so if found it would be easy to pull up and use for identity theft.

In the quest to discover the whereabouts of the drive several options were considered. One was to hire “professional dumpster divers.” They got a quote of $15,000 to sort through their garbage bins looking for the drive. In the end the price was too high and the plan was scrapped. The trash was held for a few weeks but eventually sent to the landfill.

I am not surprised that people are going through the trash anymore. It is a common technique used by identity thieves along with private investigators. As long as it still works they will continue with the practice. I do think they could have found a more competitive price to get the work done.

Some simple steps that can be taken from the data breach at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada:

  1. Think twice before putting sensitive data on removable drives. If you still want to do it then think a third time.
  2. Always encrypt your data no matter what device it is on.
  3. All magnetic media should be destroyed. Never left in the trash.