Midland to pay ransom after cyber-attack
The Town of Midland is preparing to pay a ransom after hackers locked down a portion of its computer system more than week ago.
Hackers illegally accessed the town’s network on Sept. 1 and infected it with a virus which was able to encrypt a number of systems. The hackers have since been demanding a ransom to decrypt the systems which have been rendered unusable.
The town says vital services, like fire and waste management, were not impacted and there is no evidence that any information was removed or accessed.
“While we recognize the concern, at this time, ongoing investigations have not found any evidence that information was removed from the system or inappropriately accessed, and cyber security experts are working diligently to rule out the possibility,” said Midland CAO John Skorobohacz.
The town will not say how much it’s paying the hackers, but CTV News has learned the demand was made in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
This comes just months after Wasaga Beach paid a ransom to hackers after their data was compromised.
“It is truly a matter of when, not if it will happen again,” said Henry de Jager, Director of IT with the County of Simcoe.
He says one in three incoming emails contain some forum of virus or spam activity.
“The ability for these cyber criminals to now monetize their attacks has led to that increase,” said de Jager.
Midland’s computers went dark for 48 hours last week, crippling email access and payment processing.
The town hired an insurance company along with hacking experts to deal with the cyber thieves.
“Although we don’t know exactly how the attack occurred, a comprehensive third-party forensic investigation is ongoing,” said Skorobohacz. “It’s important to note that we had a firewall in place at the time of incident, and we have absolutely no evidence that suggests our firewall was compromised.”
Officials say it’s still too early to know who is responsible and how much this hack will cost the town.
“It’s all been covered by this insurance arrangement, so there’s really been no net financial impact to the town,” said Mayor Gord McKay.
Town officials hope to have the computer systems fully restored this week.
The Ontario Privacy Commissioner is also investigating if the privacy of residents and town information was breached.