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Eastern Ontario municipality suffered from a ransomware attack


A municipality of eastern Ontario suffered from a ransomware attack in the latter part of last month (i.e. in June 2019), which affected all of their services. The Nation, an eastern Ontario municipality near Casselman, suffered the attack on a Sunday (i.e. June 30, 2019), as per a statement on their website.


The computer networks of the municipality were accessed illegally, and got infected with ransomware. Then the ransomware encrypted computer system, rendering several programs, including the email system of the municipality, unusable.


Mayor Francois St. Amour, of The Nation, said that this ransomware attack has created numerous inconveniences for Amour's administration. "It is problematic for our employees. They can't send or receive emails," he said. Although a few days after this ransomware attack occurred, all the city's services were restored with exception of email server. The email system takes more time than other city's services to get restored, as the audit experts of IT security need to reset each of the account individually.


Amour added that this ransomware attack incident has been reported by the municipality to the police as well as to Ontario Information and Privacy commissioner. Even though the investigation is yet to be concluded, the authorities believe that the hackers have not accessed the data that was compromised during this incident. An Information Commission spokesman said that "the main motivation of these people is not the data theft, they only care about blocking access to the systems and their stored information to force victims to pay the ransom".


The hackers demanded the ransom payment between $7,000 and $10,000 in bitcoin, however the municipality has refused to comply with attackers' demands and carry out this recovery process on their own.


According to Amour, various new security measures as well as protocols were added so as to reduce risk of another future attack. Amour said "we have to learn from what happened. Most of our servers at nighttime will be shut-down, and it's going to a more rigorous logging-in process. It's going to inconvenience most of the users, but that's what you have to do to have higher security".


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