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Hamilton says it is dealing with a ransomware attack, no idea when IT systems will be restored

Hamilton mayor Andrea Horwath, left, and City Manager Marnie Cluckie took part in a March 3 news conference on the ongoing cyberattack affecting the city's IT systems. Hamilton mayor Andrea Horwath, left, and City Manager Marnie Cluckie took part in a March 3 news conference on the ongoing cyberattack affecting the city's IT systems.

Hamilton is contending with a ransomware attack that is impacting several of its municipal systems, city officials shared late Monday afternoon.

Along with legal counsel and insurers, police are also involved, City Manager Marnie Cluckie told reporters during an online news conference.

Little else was divulged about exactly what the municipality is doing to address the situation and what kind of ransom may be paid out to the hackers.

Cluckie would only say that a team of experts is working “around the clock” to get the affected computer systems fully back on track. However, it remains unclear exactly when exactly that might happen.

“I can tell you though, that we will only restore systems when we are confident we can do so safely and securely,” she said.

Hamilton’s manager also noted that at this point the city does not believe that anyone’s personal data and information has been accessed.

For now, she maintained that their key priorities are “protecting residents and minimizing the impacts” of this incident.

Mayor Andrea Horwath credited the efforts of city staff who immediately began working to find a solution to this issue, notably the quick assembly of a team of “extremely talented” cyber experts.

She also thanked Hamiltonians for their patience during this “unprecedented situation.”

“Council and I recognize very clearly how disruptive things have been and what a challenging time that has been for the people of our city,” she said during the media availability.

Horwath said that the city will try to answer as many questions as it can and would provide regular updates on the situation when new information is available.

Hamilton’s mayor also vowed to find out how hackers were able to access some of the city’s IT systems and essentially hold them ransom.

“Once we have gone to a place where we've restored all of our systems, city manager Clucky and our team have committed to conduct a full review to understand how this breach was able to happen based on their findings,” she said.

“They've committed to me and the council that they weren't will ensure that the city puts in place appropriate systems and protocols to try to avoid something like this happening again.”

A woman uses her computer keyboard to type while surfing the internet in North Vancouver, B.C., on December 19, 2012. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Hamilton first announced that it is experiencing an “ongoing” cybersecurity incident in a Feb. 26 news bulletin posted to its website.

The city did not disclose at that time how many of its municipal systems are affected by the attack, which occurred the day before on Feb. 25.

It was also initially not able to say exactly what information may have been caught up in the breach.

Days later, the city outlined what areas are directly impacted. They include: taxes, telephones lines, transit, Ontario Works and Special Supports as well as a number of other city services like account payable payments to vendors, certain online tools for waste and recycling, child care offices, phone lines for recreation and senior centres, and its mapping system.

Hamilton has since taken the step of cancelling all committee meetings due to the system outage as there is no internet access in council chambers.

Horwath said, for now, “all hands are on deck” as they work to get to the bottom of the cyber attack, adding that’s the number one focus of Hamilton’s senior leadership and its city manager.

“I hope people understand that it's not an easy decision to make, but it's one that is in the best interest of the people of Hamilton at this point and of getting us through this current situation,” she said.

Residents are being urged to visit for the latest updates. Top Stories


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