Cybersecurity experts weigh in on London Drugs incident

All London Drugs stores were closed again on Monday because of a ‘cybersecurity’ threat. Customers are being left with more questions than answers. Monika Gul reports.

London Drugs locations across Western Canada are closed for a second day after the company said it was “the victim of a cybersecurity incident” Sunday.

“Upon discovering the incident, London Drugs immediately undertook countermeasures to protect its network and data, including retaining leading third-party cybersecurity experts to assist with containment, remediation, and to conduct a forensic investigation,” the company said in a statement to CityNews Monday.

Experts say we are entering a new age of cyber threats with recent developments in machine learning.

“A single attacker could only do so much damage in the past. but with cloud tools and AI, and so forth, they can wreak havoc like an army of digital attackers,” said Jamie Hari, the director of cybersecurity at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

“They’re able to hit more targets because they use automation and artificial intelligence to do more and more work that the human hacker would have needed to manually do previously.”

London Drugs has not yet announced when stores will reopen. A Monday afternoon social media post by the retailer announced that it has taken down its phone lines and will restore access when the investigation is complete. It advised customers to visit stores in person for immediate pharmacy needs.

David Jao professor at the University of Waterloo in the Faculty of Mathematics and an expert in cryptography. He said worried customers and business owners should be abundantly cautious when it comes to their digital safety.

“Be mindful of your own cybersecurity position,” Jao told CityNews. “What kinds of things are you giving out?”

But Jao is hopeful that artificial intelligence could also be the solution to stopping future attacks.

“As a form of cybersecurity defense, I think AI is fantastic,” said Jao. “[Certain tech] uses AI to look for patterns of network and file access that are highly representative of ongoing cybersecurity attacks and you can actually stop them in their tracks with this technology.”

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