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Town of Westlock hit by cybersecurity breach, residents’ personal data compromised

More than a thousand people in the Town of Westlock had their personal information compromised after a cybersecurity incident earlier this year, the town confirmed Friday.

“On January 31, 2024, we detected a cybersecurity incident involving unauthorized access to a portion of our IT infrastructure,” Simone Wiley, chief administrative officer for the Town of Westlock wrote in a statement released Friday. “We acted immediately to secure our network and data from further unauthorized activity and engaged third-party cybersecurity experts to contain and remediate the breach and perform a forensic investigation to determine the nature and extent of the incident.”

The town says the personal information of individuals and businesses who participate in the town’s pre-authorized payment plan, as well as businesses and employees who use electronic funds transfer was compromised.

In total, 1,633 people were impacted.

“We have contacted those affected by this incident directly and are providing credit monitoring and identity protection services to support them. Additionally, we have implemented enhanced security measures to strengthen our defences and to better protect against future incidents.”

Wiley says the incident has also been reported to the Privacy Commissioner of Alberta.

In an email to CTV News Edmonton, a spokesperson for the town said the decision was made not to disclose the breach to the public until the investigation was completed.

“As soon as the investigation determined that personal information was compromised, we began a thorough and manual review of the impacted data to determine who may have been impacted and the types of personal information at risk. This process took time, and we worked as quickly as possible to notify those impacted,” Debbie Mottus said.

Westlock is about 90 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

According to the Government of Alberta, the town had a population of 4,802 in 2022.

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