The municipality of Midland on Georgian Bay acknowledges that it paid ransom to pirates who paralyzed its computer system on September 1. The amount of the ransom in cryptocurrency has not been revealed.
In a statement, the City states that the personal information of its residents was not stolen and that the emergency services of the municipality were never compromised during the period during which the municipality was completely paralyzed. It explains that the computer network that manages the fire or waste services is autonomous and is not attached to the general network as a precautionary measure.
For 48 hours, all computers in the City were unusable and citizens could only make cash payments for lack of functional payment terminals. The situation has since returned to normal.
The City explains that its computer network was taken hostage when employees discovered that a virus had contaminated all computers in the small municipality of 17,000 inhabitants. The identity of the perpetrators of the attack is not known, but the city states that they offered to unlock the access to its network through an encrypted number for ransom.
She speaks of a “very sophisticated targeted attack” that was perpetrated before dawn on September 1 at the beginning of the long weekend. She adds that her insurers have paid the bill, under a policy against this kind of illegal act. Mayor Gord McKay says that only the insurance company knows how much ransom money has been charged. He also refuses to identify the company in question.
We preferred to pay for it rather than try to solve the problem for weeks at the risk of losing all our computer data.
Gord McKay, Mayor of Midland
Mr. McKay does not know why his city in particular was the subject of such fraud. “These attacks are becoming more frequent and some fraudsters even make a business to ransom Internet users, since almost all transactions are now done on the Internet, whether to pay your property taxes, tickets or your subscription to the municipal arena. ”
The municipality claims that it has opened an investigation and that the provincial police and the Ontario Privacy Commissioner have been notified. Mayor McKay added that “residents can rest assured that the City is taking this attack very seriously and is working closely with cybersecurity experts” to understand what happened. According to him, there is nothing to indicate that the hackers had access to personal information of the taxpayers.
Ironically, the City emphasizes that it was strengthening its security system in the light of rapid changes in computer fraud when the attack occurred earlier this month.
The neighboring municipality of Wasaga Beach was also the victim of a computer attack last spring. She had also negotiated a ransom of $ 35,000, which she also paid in bitcoin.
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