Data breach of Saint John's parking ticket system exposes credit card information

Thousands of people who used credit cards to pay parking tickets in the city of Saint John may have had their confidential information exposed.

Almost 10 thousand letters were sent out this past week by the city, arriving in the mailboxes of people potentially impacted by a data breach of the city’s third-party online parking ticket payment system.

“I think this might be the single largest data breach affecting New Brunswickers by a New Brunswick organization that I’m aware of,” said David Shipley, cybersecurity analyst.

Preliminary findings from a forensic analysis into the breach say there’s reason to believe the incident could impact anyone who has paid a city-issued parking ticket over the past two years.

“This situation happened and we weren’t aware of this until sometime in December, just prior to Christmas, and we’ve checked into it, of course, with the company and shut that system off,” said Deputy Mayor of Saint John, Shirley McAlary.

Saint John is one of 46 Central Square Technology customers to be impacted by this breach, and Shipley says online conveniences like the payment system can come with a risk.

“We’re seeing cities actually completely shut down every computer rendered useless, and back about 40 years in technology, that’s not the case-- but that’s what cities are increasingly up against,” said Shipley.

McAlary says the city will be putting in an additional security level once they begin to use the system again.

The city says an unknown source gained access to customer’s information on multiple occasions and that full names, credit care information, and mailing addresses were exposed.

The city is advising anyone who got this letter to check their bank accounts for any unauthorized transactions and to let their bank know about this breach.

The letter says if you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft because of this breach, you should contact local police.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Lyall