Hamilton says he is dealing with a ransomware attack, no idea when IT systems will be restored

Hamilton is facing a ransomware attack that is impacting several of its municipal systems, city officials shared Monday afternoon.

In addition to legal counsel and insurers, police are also involved, City Manager Marnie Cluckie told reporters during an online news conference.

Little else was disclosed about what exactly the municipality is doing to address the situation and what kind of ransom could be paid to the hackers.

Cluckie simply said that a team of experts is working “24 hours a day” to get the affected computer systems back up and running. However, it’s still unclear exactly when that might happen.

“However, I can tell you that we will only restore systems when we are confident that we can do so safely,” he said.

Hamilton’s manager also noted that at this time the city does not believe anyone’s personal information and data was accessed.

For now, he maintained that his key priorities are to “protect residents and minimize the impacts” of this incident.

Mayor Andrea Horwath acknowledged the efforts of city staff who immediately began working to find a solution to this problem, particularly the rapid formation of a team of “extremely talented” cyber experts.

He also thanked Hamilton residents for their patience during this “unprecedented situation.”

“The Council and I recognize very clearly how disruptive things have been and what a challenging time this has been for the people of our city,” he said during the media availability.

Horwath said the city will try to answer as many questions as it can and will provide regular updates on the situation when new information becomes available.

Hamilton’s mayor also promised to find out how hackers were able to access some of the city’s IT systems and essentially hold them to ransom.

“Once we get to a place where we have restored all of our systems, City Manager Clucky and our team are committed to conducting a full review to understand how this breach could have occurred based on their findings,” he said.

“They have engaged with me and the council to ensure that the city puts appropriate systems and protocols in place to try to prevent something like this from happening again.”

Data ransom

Hamilton first announced that it was experiencing an “ongoing” cybersecurity incident in a Feb. 26 newsletter posted on its website.

The city did not disclose at the time how many of its municipal systems were affected by the attack, which occurred the day before, on February 25.

He also could not initially say exactly what information may have been trapped in the breach.

Days later, the city outlined which areas will be directly affected. They include: taxes, phone lines, transit, Ontario Works and Special Supports, as well as a number of other city services, such as payments of accounts payable to suppliers, certain online waste and recycling tools, child care offices, telephone lines for recreation and senior centers. and its mapping system.

Hamilton has since taken the step of canceling all committee meetings due to the system outage as there is no internet access in council chambers.

Horwath said that for now, “it’s all hands on deck” as they work to get to the bottom of the cyberattack, adding that’s the number one focus of Hamilton’s top leaders and its city manager.

“I hope people understand that it’s not an easy decision to make, but it’s what’s best for the people of Hamilton right now and to get us through this current situation,” he said.

Residents are urged to visit hamilton.ca for the latest updates.


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