Canadian Banks Refuse to Pay Ransom After Potential Data Breach

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BMO said only that a "threat" was made, but it has a policy of not making payments to fraudsters, while Simplii was similarly cryptic, saying only that fraudsters may have electronically accessed some data, but that its practice is not to pay ransom demands.

On Monday, Bank of Montreal and online bank Simplii Financial - owned by CIBC - revealed that they learned over the weekend that fraudsters had managed to steal identifying personal information of a combined 90,000 different account holders at the two banks. Not the best way to enter the week, right?

Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), Canada's fourth biggest lender, said on Monday it was contacted by fraudsters on Sunday who claimed they were in possession of the personal and financial information of a limited number of the bank's customers.

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According to Simplii Financial, which was rebranded by parent bank CIBC in August 2017, following the end of a partnership with Canadian grocer Loblaw, there's no indication that CIBC customers have been affected by the breach.

Both banks say they will be contacting clients, and recommended that customers monitor their accounts and notify their financial institution about any suspicious activity. Do not respond to these emails if you get one.

The banks are now in the process of contacting potentially affected customers.

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Bank of Montreal said it believed the attack originated from outside the country and was confident the exposures that led to the theft of customer data had been closed off.

Both banks said they both took additional security measures after learning of the potential breach and would be directly contacting customers whose accounts may have been compromised. "We have notified and are working with relevant authorities as we continue to assess the situation", BMO said in a statement.

BMO has strong and robust processes in place to protect customer data and we take customer privacy very seriously.

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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.