The risk of offshoring security

Kim Crawley, security researcher for InfoSec Institute

The language problems and having more middlemen than necessary in data center and IT security services are also causing operational problems, many of which I've observed here in Canada.

There's an ongoing class action lawsuit against PC Financial, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which provides all of PC Financial's infrastructure, and handles all of their services. Thousands of PC Financial customers have found their checking and savings accounts to be completely non-operational, with no fix in sight. We're almost completely certain that the CIBC outsources their security and other electronic banking functions to India. With no access to their money, of course those thousands of customers are pissed off.

I have a checking account with the Royal Bank of Canada. There have been a few times over the past couple of months that I've found the ATMs in my downtown Toronto neighbourhood to be non-operational. So, I couldn't withdraw my money. Fortunately, those incidents have been temporary, lasting 36 hours at a time, at most.

But the same problems that caused their ATMs and Interac (a Canadian debit system that all Canadian banks and most Canadian credit unions use) systems to go down also affected their whole electronic banking system. So, customers couldn't even withdraw or deposit via a human teller. My local branch has been swarmed with angry customers on those days. RBC offshores their electronic banking management to India.

There's also been a scandal in the last year about RBC replacing their domestic workers in various areas with "temporary foreign workers." The Canadian media has dubbed it the "Temporary Foreign Worker Scandal." Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has made it easy for Canadian companies to replace Canadian workers with foreigners who are sent to Canada to work. According to legislation, they can be paid less than Canadians, and aren't protected by the same labor laws. That hurts both the Canadians who lose their jobs, and the foreign workers who are sent here to Canada.

RBC has been taking full advantage of the Harper government's program.

Dave Moreau, an IT systems support worker who was employed by RBC, talked about how the bank's practice of replacing their Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers affected him and his colleagues to the CBC.

"They are being brought in from India, and I am wondering how they got work visas," he said. "The new people are in our offices, and we are training them to do our jobs. That adds insult to injury."

In the next couple of months, I'm closing my RBC checking account, and I'll be transferring my funds and all of my banking services to a credit union. In my opinion, credit unions tend to be less greedy than major banks. When I'm charged extra because I have to use other banks' ATMs, I'll consider it to be a good return on investment. If I accumulate a couple of hundred dollars a year for having to use other banks' ATMs, I figure I'll be saving more than that in the lower fees credit unions charge for services, and I'll get better service. All while supporting Canadian workers and smaller businesses.

Previous Page  1  2  3  4  Next Page