Ontario town pays hackers' ransom to restore computers
Published Thursday, September 13, 2018 7:01PM EDT
Town officials in Midland, Ont., have paid off the hackers who’ve held their computer systems for ransom since Sept. 1 and are working on getting their servers back up and running.
Two weeks ago, anonymous hackers took the town’s encryption keys hostage, rendering their computer operations useless for 48 hours. Midland town employees have not had full access to the system since.
The town appears to have been the victim of a ransonware scam, where a computer system is taken over remotely, typically through a malicious email attachment.
The town is choosing not to disclose how much Bitcoin they’ve forked over to the hackers, but say they beefed up insurance protections back in April following a similar attack in nearby Wasaga Beach, Ont., so taxpayers are on the hook for the insurance premium but nothing else.
“There is a cost to it but nothing like what it would've been if we'd had to deal with them directly,” Midland Mayor Gord McKay told CTV Barrie.
Still, some Midland residents don’t believe paying the hackers was the way to go.
“The next town is going to get a ransom, and the next town and the next town,” said Midland resident Beryl Chillcott. “They’ve got to stop it.”
Midland mayoral candidate Stewart Strathearn doesn’t agree with paying the hackers on principle, but says it’s a necessary evil.
“I think that's the only way we're going to get up and running in the time that we need to, to serve the people of Midland appropriately,” he said.
Town officials still do not know who’s behind the attack or if any personal information has been breached.
The town expects its servers to be back up and running by Monday.
With a report from CTV Barrie’s Mike Arsalides