Customers of BMO and Simplii Financial Fall Victim to Fraudsters

The CIBC sign in Toronto's financial district on Feb. 26 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Nathan Denette

The CIBC sign in Toronto's financial district on Feb. 26 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS Nathan Denette

"We warned BMO and Simplii that we would share their customers informations if they don't cooperate".

According to a CBC News report Tuesday, the two banks hit by the breach, Bank of Montreal and CIBC's online bank Simplii Financial, have said that the personal information of a total of 90,000 account holders had been taken - including identifying data such as names, account numbers, passwords. Ltd. Simplii has about two million clients, many of whom were moved over from President's Choice Financial when CIBC ended its relationship with Loblaws, and competes with digital rivals such as Tangerine Bank, EQ Bank and Alterna Bank.

It says some personal and account information for about 40-thousand Simplii Financial clients may have been electronically accessed and additional online security measures are being implemented. There's not a lot of detail regarding the fraudsters right now, but Bank of Montreal did state that its team believes the attack came from outside of Canada. But the bank said it was working with the authorities and conducting a thorough investigation.

Any customers who notice any suspicious activity should contact the bank.

"We're taking this claim seriously and have taken action to further enhance our monitoring and security procedures", Michael Martin, senior vice-president of Simplii Financial, said in a statement.

Scotiabank CFO Sean McGuckin said on a media conference call discussing its quarterly results that Canadian financial institutions have a very open dialogue around cyber threats and the bank continues to make investments to protect customer privacy.

In both cases, the attackers have threatened to publish the customer data.

Kumar said that the big question in this incident is if this is a breach of the bank or a breach via other means.

James Lerud, head of the Verodin Behavioral Research Team, said the incident appears to be an extortion attempt by the hackers, where they threaten to publish stolen data unless they receive a ransom.

Simplii Financial is CIBC's direct banking brand.

New federal data breach regulations which would require mandatory reporting of security breaches are set to take effect on November 1. Previously, companies which had been hacked had been alerting the public on their own timeline.

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