Calgary third-party vaccination verification app pulls web portal after users' data left unsecured

Hours before the Flames' first preseason game at the Saddledome on Sunday, PORTpass announced it was experiencing technical difficulties and told fans to bring paper copies of their vaccination record to the game instead.

A third-party vaccine verification app that was initially endorsed by the Calgary Flames' ownership group left some users' data unsecured and available to be viewed by the public, CTV News has confirmed.

The website app of Calgary-made PORTpass was pulled offline late Monday and its website now says "we are updating" on its landing page.

A news tip sent to CTV News and other media outlets on Monday evening pointed out the security flaw that allowed anyone to access profile information of PORTpass users.

The pages displayed the name, email address, blood type, postal code, date of birth and phone number of registered PORTpass users. The page also contained a link to the photo identification submitted by a user, including their driver's licence or passport.

�� @MeliGilligan @jasonfherring @CTVCalgary @GlobalCalgary @calgaryherald @CarrieTait

CDNS needs to know the privacy, safety and ethical concerns for the @portpasscanada app you promoted.

I uploaded a fake vac doc, and it was verified.

Juicy details below ��#covid19ab /1

— Conrad Yeung (@yeungc) September 26, 2021


Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) -- the group that owns the Flames, Stampeders, Roughnecks and Hitmen -- had initially encouraged fans to download PORTpass to provide easier entry into the Saddledome.

CSEC is now saying fans should bring hard copies of their vaccination records to future games.

"CSEC is reviewing issues that have arisen with respect to the use of the PORTpass app and will release further information as appropriate," a statement on the Flames' website reads.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination questions?

We've got answers for you, #CofRed!

Policy Info:

— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) September 22, 2021

PORTpass CEO Zakir Hussein says he ordered his team to take down their web portal Monday after he found out that user information was publicly available online.

"I'm waiting to hear back from our audit teams here to make sure... where are we going wrong? Where are these holes? What needs to get fixed?" Hussein said Tuesday.

He added that he has two companies auditing the PORTpass security and privacy systems and he is unsure of how many user profiles were affected by the breach.

"Personally, I don't know. I don't yet, but it was definitely not in the hundreds of thousands or thousands or five hundred," he said.

CTV News is unable to verify how many user profiles were affected and for how long their personal information would have been available publicly online.

"We are working on figuring out exactly what happened here and obviously we're going to make this better," Hussein said.

Alberta's Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta said it is contacting PORTpass to remind them about reporting its privacy breach.

"Under Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (private sector privacy law), if an organization experiences a breach and determines that there is a real risk of significant harm to affected individuals, it must report the incident to the Commissioner and notify affected individuals," reads a statement from the province's privacy commissioner.