We’ve all seen movies about hackers causing complete chaos by shutting down some sort of major computer system.

Well, the plot of those movies just became reality for a small town in Ontario, whose entire computer network is being held hostage by a hacker demanding money.

Here’s what’s happened:

The town of Midland was held hostage by a hacker from September 1st to almost to the end of the month. The hacker is demanded that the town give them an unspecified amount of Bitcoins in return to get its computer system back.

The hacker managed to render all computers connected to the municipal network unusable for 48-hours at one point.

They also managed to infiltrate the financial payment system of the town. The system could not accept any payments made from credit or debit cards due to the hack and now has to operate as a cash-only system

On Sept. 6, the town began the process of paying an undisclosed ransom amount, demanded in bitcoin, to the cybercriminals in exchange for the encryption keys to unlock the systems

The town of Midland says it has returned to normal operations less than a month after its systems were infected with ransomware and held hostage by cybercriminals.

According to an update released by the town on Monday, “substantive progress” has been made on restoration efforts and on the ongoing forensic investigation into the incident.

A spokesperson for the town was unable to say if all of the town’s systems have been restored, but said the “relevant systems” have been decrypted and the town has returned to normal operations.

While the investigation is ongoing, the town’s spokesperson was unable to provide Global News with the amount paid to the cybercriminals, saying those numbers are expected to be released when a report is presented to town council at a later date.

The town of Wasaga Beach’s computer system was compromised in a similar incident back in April. The town paid just under $35,000 to decrypt its system and once the cost of internal staff overtime and internal productivity losses were added to the bill, the total cost of the incident amounted to more than $250,000.

Despite speculation that the incidents may have been connected, the town of Midland’s spokesperson says it is not aware of any evidence that suggests the attack was in any way related to the incident in Wasaga Beach.

All this could have been prevented by having a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan.

Sources:

Narcity.com  – https://www.narcity.com/news/an-ontario-town-has-been-held-hostage-by-hackers-for-over-a-week-and-its

Globalnews.ca – https://globalnews.ca/news/4496567/midland-ransomware-update/

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