Town of St. Marys hit with ransomware cyber attack

The Town of St. Marys was hit by a cyber attack this week, locking the municipality’s internal server and encrypting its data.

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The Town of St. Marys is working to restore its crippled computer systems after a ransomware attack locked the municipality’s internal server and encrypted its data.

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Town staff are now working with cyber incident-response experts to pinpoint the source of the breach, restore the municipality’s back-up data and assess the impacts of the Wednesday attack, officials said in a news release.

“We’ve hired a large security firm that is familiar with the type of cyber incident we are experiencing and is guiding us through what to do,” St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee told the Beacon Herald Friday afternoon. “Police are also very interested in this matter and have dedicated resources to it, and we are getting legal counsel as well, so we have people working 24-7 on this.”

In the moments after learning of the breach, town staff took immediate steps to secure sensitive information by shutting down IT systems and restricting access to email, officials said. Stratford police were contacted, as well as the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and the town’s lawyers.

Since police and cyber-security experts are actively investigating the breach, Strathdee said he couldn’t speak about all of the details of the attack and the ensuing investigation but confirmed the town did receive a message from the alleged hackers asking for a ransom to be paid.

“It is a ransomware attack. I can tell you that, and there was a recorded message that we have not responded to,” Strathdee said without offering specifics about message details or the amount of money demanded.

Critical municipal services like fire, police, transit and water were not affected by the breach and were operating normally, officials said. Town staff members were still able to perform their regular duties and were available by phone, email or in person at town facilities.

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