Midland pays ransom after crippling cyber-attack
The town of Midland has given in to the demands of cyber thieves who were able to lock down its computer system for two weeks.
The unidentified hackers broke into Midland’s computer network on September 1 and infected it with a virus, which locked up its accounting and human resources software, and all billing components, rendering them useless.
“We have in fact advanced some ransom,” says John Skorobohacz, Midland’s Chief Administrative Officer.
Officials say they have since received all of the encryption keys taken hostage by hackers, and have so far recovered 98 percent of the stolen information.
How much was paid to hackers in the form of Bitcoin is still a secret.
Midland says it loaded up on insurance protection following April’s cyber-attack in Wasaga Beach, which ended up costing the town more than $250,000.
“Just as you have a house and you have to buy insurance for your house, you’ve got to pay a premium to keep that insurance in place. So, we’ve been provided this service and it’s taken care of this particular situation. There is a cost to it, but nothing like what it would have been if we’d had to deal with the hackers directly,” says Midland Mayor Gord McKay.
Meanwhile, some Midland residents believe paying the hackers is a bad idea.
“I would not have paid the ransom, because the next town is going to get a ransom, and then the next town, and the next after that. They’ve got to stop it,” says Beryl Chillcott.
“Do I agree (with paying the ransom)? Yes. I think it’s the only way we’re going to get up and running in the time we need to, to serve the people of Midland,” says mayoral candidate Stewart Strathearn.
The town says it doesn’t know who is responsible for the attack, or whether any personal information has been stolen.
“At this point in time, we have no evidence to prove that it has been breached,” said Skorobohacz.
The town hopes to have all of its systems and servers fully restored by Monday.