An outside firm is now leading the search for answers in a ‘cyber incident’ targeting the Town of St. Marys last week.
Town officials says the incident resulted in some of its data being encrypted, and that a request for a ransom was made.
“I can confirm there is a ransom request, but we haven’t gone down that path. We first need to look at our systems and where we are,” said Al Strathdee, mayor of St. Marys.
The town hasn’t disclosed which data was accessed, only disclosing that some town data had been “encrypted”.
Strathdee would not confirm how much ransom was requested, but said he is shocked his town was a cybersecurity target.
“I mean the first thing, is just like anything like when you get robbed, you know, ‘why me?’” said Strathdee.
Officials say it was on July 20 when the town realized a potential threat had breached their computer system.
“One of our techs discovered there was an irregularity with the system, so he immediately isolated our systems and unplugged and started into action mode to see what was going on,” said Strathdee.
Critical services like police, fire and water are still operating as normal.
Ontario’s former information and privacy commissioner says municipalities are often targets.
“You can have the strongest security possible, and it could still get hacked into, however, hackers are not going to waste a ton of time trying to break the code if you have strong code, they’ll go somewhere else and find a weaker code,” said Ann Cavoukian, Global Privacy & Security by Design Centre executive director.
A “rapid incident response team” from private firm Deloitte Canada has now taken over the investigation and Strathdee says getting answers is a top priority.
“We actually have physical boots on the ground. There’s people in the building here that I am calling you from that are actually looking at our systems and trying to determine, what happened, if there was a threat and where we go from here,” said Strathdee.
St. Marys staff are receiving updates twice a day from Deloitte and the town’s legal counsel as they work to map out an action plan.