Hamilton cyberattack: City won’t pay ransom

Estimated read time 2 min read

The City of Hamilton has refused to pay a ransom to hackers who launched a cyberattack against the city nearly three weeks ago.

The ransomware attack took place on Feb. 25 and has plagued city services, including but not limited to, telephone lines, transit schedules, tax services, and Ontario Works and Special Supports.

“The demand was a whole hell of a lot of money,” Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath said in a news conference on Friday. The mayor could not say how much the hackers wanted, but added, “It was a huge ask.”

At this point in time, Horwath said the city does not believe that anyone’s personal information has been compromised.

City Manager Marnie Cluckie added that the city can’t access the data, since it’s encrypted, but that they have a backup in place.

“All evidence at this point and based on what our cyber experts are telling us is that while it’s encrypted it hasn’t been removed from the organization, it hasn’t been taken and therefore it hasn’t been compromised,” Cluckie said.

When it comes to getting services back online, she said fire and paramedic services, along with anything safety-related, are priorities. Meanwhile, the city is still working to contain the breach and rebuild its IT system.

“It’s not over yet,” Horwath said, noting the long path to restoration still ahead. “Those bad guys are still out there.”

They (hackers) are miles ahead of most organizations because this is what they do day in and day out.”

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