Health insurance provider for UVic international students suffers security breach

Campus News

3 170 UVic students affected

Guard.me breach notice
Screenshot of Guard.me website.

UVic is warning students that they may have been affected by a security breach of Guard.me 一 the health insurance provider for UVic international students. The university is working with Guard.me to determine the exact cause of the breach and what data was impacted. 

UVic estimates that 3170 current students were impacted. 

Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs Jim Dunsdon informed students of the breach in an email on Friday. He recommended that students change their passwords if they use their Guard.me password for other services. Dundson assured students that UVic is “advocating on your behalf throughout this process.” 

“[UVic] takes the privacy of our students and community very seriously and know this information may be concerning to you, as it is to us,” Dunsdon’s email read.

The e-mail also warned students to monitor their bank statements in case of identity theft. Guard.me has offered students a year of free credit monitoring in light of this breach and temporarily shut down parts of their website. 

Guard.me is a Canada-based company that provides emergency health insurance for international students at UVic. Most international students are eligible for B.C.’s Medical Services Plan, but are required to wait up to three months after arriving in Canada for their coverage to begin 一 Guard.me helps fill this waiting period. International students are automatically registered for Guard.me when they sign up for classes.  

This is not the first time Guard.me has suffered a breach. In May 2021, they remedied a breach that exposed students’ names, contact details, encrypted passwords, and biographical information such as their date of birth and gender. At the time of that breach, their website was down for nearly two weeks. No UVic students were impacted by that breach.

Guard.me’s privacy statements on their website say that personal information can only be accessed by their employees, agents, and authorized service providers. They admit, however, that data sometimes needs to be transferred to service providers. Anytime data is transferred on the internet, a security breach is a possibility.

In their email to students, Guard.me suggested students review financial statements for any unauthorized activity and not open suspicious messages with attachments. They added that students should inform themselves on how to ensure they are protected from passport fraud by visiting the government of Canada’s websites. 

With files from Michael John Lo.