PRINCE TOWNSHIP — With council braced for soaring expenses and fewer provincial dollars this year, the pressing issue at January’s meeting was whether the township could stretch its budget to include cyber liability insurance when it renews its municipal policy next month.
Carlo DiCandia, of Algoma Insurance, told council it would cost $2,500 extra to include cyber liability insurance in a policy whose premium is already poised to top $33,000 plus HST.
DiCandia said the township’s present policy with Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada would cover damages to computer and telecommunications systems caused by virus infections and hacking events.
But it would not provide protection if residents and vendors had their privacy breached and decided to sue the township.
DiCandia said cyber liability insurance would not prevent information thefts; however, it would provide coverage for responses to cyber attacks, and for funds stolen from bank accounts.
It would also cover the cost of business interruption, and provide personnel to notify individuals whose data was in the municipal system of the privacy breach and to advise them to contact their banks and credit card companies.
“The new legislation that came in October … (requires) that you have to report hacking incidents immediately,” DiCandia said.
Cyber liability insurance would also cover the cost defending a municipality in court in case of a lawsuit, he added.
DiCandia noted too that cyber attacks on municipal computer systems are no longer rare events, citing incidents in Wasaga Beach and Midland, Ont., last summer, where cybercriminals encrypted their systems with ransomware, forcing them to pay huge ransoms in bitcoins to have their systems released.
“It cost Wasaga Beach roughly $35,000 to get their system back,” he said. “In Midland, it must have been a lot more, because they didn’t even disclose what it cost them.”
Closer to home, Wawa had its system disabled by ransomware in December. DiCandia predicted the final cost would be “absolutely exorbitant,” as Wawa did not have cyber liability insurance.
Coun. Dave Amadio asked whether the township could scale back other items in its insurance policy to make cyber liability insurance more affordable.
DiCandia suggested opting for higher deductibles but cautioned against cutting back on coverage.
Coun. Michael Matthews asked whether the township could lower the $2,500 price tag for cyber liability insurance by installing specialized software on its system to reduce the risk of a cyber attack.
DiCandia said he would send the township information on how to enhance the security of its computer system.
Council agreed to review DiCandia’s information before the Feb. 12 council meeting, when the question of whether to purchase cyber liability insurance will be put to a vote.
In other council news:
— The result of this month’s poll on the topic of recycling pickup dates suggests that most residents want to continue recycling every two weeks instead of switching to 3-week or 4-week intervals.
Of the 47 residents who responded to the poll, 31 wanted to keep biweekly recycling, and 11 opted for monthly recycling. Five thought three-week intervals would suffice, but Prince CAO Peggy Greco said GFL Environmental Inc. didn’t favour this option.
The poll was conducted via the township’s web site, its Facebook page and Instagram account as well as in the January Prince Township Newsletter.
Given the response, council agreed to maintain biweekly recycling for now, but to revisit the issue at budget time.
“If we went to (every) four weeks, it would save us $20,000,” Amadio said.
— The township’s Official Plan, which dates from 2014, is due for its five-year review. Council agreed to have township planner Steve Turco update the OP at an estimated cost of $2,800 once this year’s budget is approved.
The update will bring the OP into compliance with the Provincial Policy Statement and provide direction on whether the micro-cultivation of cannabis should be a permitted activity in rural areas.