Information breach at protein developer said contained

A security breach affecting email systems at Protein Industries Canada (PIC) did not involve the loss of any commercially sensitive proprietary information, says the top executive at PIC.

“We know for a fact that there were a number of files that were accessed, none of which were downloaded and none of which contained any confidential business information,” said Bill Greuel, chief executive officer at PIC.

“We know for certain that no confidential business information was downloaded or disclosed.”

Protein Industries Canada is a Regina-based non-profit organization charged with establishing Canada as a globally recognized source of high-quality, plant-based protein products.

It is one of five so-called innovation superclusters in Canada that received a share of $900 million in federal seed money to support innovative projects in selected high-growth business sectors.

Specifically, PIC will work with private partners to create co-investment projects to potentially build the plant protein industry.

Earlier this year, the organization sent out its first call for potential investment proposals involving private sector partners.

So far, 23 proposals have been selected for further consideration. Successful proposals will vie for a share of roughly $153 million in federal grant money, furnished through the federal superclusters program.

Earlier this month, PIC confirmed in its November newsletter that an IT breach had occurred affecting emails between PIC and an undisclosed number of PIC members.

“We worked closely with our IT provider to quickly contain the situation and assess potential damage,” the PIC newsletter said.

“All Protein Industries Canada members whose emails were affected have been informed, and no sensitive information was discovered.”

In the newsletter, PIC said it takes the breach very seriously.

“Since the breach, we have reviewed our IT program and have implemented enhanced security provisions and increased monitoring,” the organization added.

In a Nov. 7 interview with The Western Producer, Greuel said the breach was a single intrusion.

“There was no data lost and no confidential business information compromised.”

Greuel said the intruder attempted to take over a specific email account.

It is unclear who was responsible for the breach, but the threat likely did not originate from within Canada.

Greuel said PIC has engaged a third party to improve threat detection capabilities and is also adding additional security..

To date, PIC has received project proposals valued at more than $480 million from dozens of potential investment partners, including private sector businesses.

“While not all of these projects were successful, it is a demonstration of the interest from the industry, and the strength within the sector,” Greuel said in the November newsletter.

PIC is expecting to have a significant portion of its $153 million investment pool committed to projects by the end of March 2020.

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