Wasaga Beach pays ransom following computer system hacking
New details have emerged about how much the Town of Wasaga Beach spent to reclaim data after the towns’ computer system was hacked.
The town’s computers were compromised for about seven weeks in the spring after hackers locked them down and demanded ransom for the data.
“It was like living in a spy movie,” says Wasaga Beach’s Chief Administrative Officer George Vadeboncoeur.
He and town officials spent weeks negotiating with hackers he believes are overseas.
“via a secure encrypted email, back and forth, that couldn’t be traced.”
It was back on April 30th that the town’s computer system was compromised with a virus, locking up its software and back-up system, demanding cash be paid to unlock the data.
The town says they paid hackers about $35,000 for the code to recover the information.
It’s a decision Vadenboncoeur says he made after seeking advice from experts.
“We would’ve been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars because we would have had to start from scratch to recreate everything, and that seemed like a price to pay.”
The town also had to pay more than $50,000 for consultants to help decrypt the information, and taxpayers are also on the hook for $160,000 of lost productivity by staff.
"It's very unfortunate when it happens, and it's extra unfortunate when it's public dollars," says Wasaga Beach Councillor Sylvia Bray.
Councillors say it's unfortunate that the town has to dip into its reserve fund to pay for this ordeal but they're proud of the way staff handled the crisis.
"This could've been devastating, and we are well positioned to weather the storm and move forward,” says Councillor Joe Belanger.
"It happened, I think we need to understand how and why to make sure it doesn't happen again," says Bray.
Town officials say no personal information was compromised and they have now taken several measures to beef up their cybersecurity.