Canadian Underwriter

Government services affected by weekend ransomware attack

November 4, 2019   by The Canadian Press

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IQALUIT, Nunavut – Crucial Nunavut government services from health to justice were still impaired Monday after a weekend cyberattack locked out civil servants from access to electronic information.

“We are working non-stop to resolve this issue,” said Premier Joe Savikataaq in a release. “Essential services will not be impacted and the (government) will continue to operate while we work through this issue.”

On Saturday night, the government was the victim of a ransomware attack. The program encrypted individual files on various servers and work stations, and locked out regular users.

All government services requiring access to electronic information stored on computers were affected.

Voice mail wasn’t working. Nor were government email accounts.

The territory said restoring electronic data for services related to health, family services, education, justice and finance will take top priority.

Personal information doesn’t appear to have been leaked in the attack, officials said. Rather than distributing private data, ransomware prevents users from getting their own information and demands a ransom to restore access.

Nunavut officials said no ransom has been paid.

While offices were functioning, the public was being warned services would take longer to provide. Those attending medical appointments were asked to bring their health cards and any medication they’re taking.

Technical staff were working on data access and said most files would be restored using existing up-to-date backups.

The territory was unable to estimate when computer systems would be up and running.

“There will likely be some delays as we get back online,” Savikataaq said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2019.

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