Saint John, N.B., is rebuilding its computer network rather than submitting to criminals who launched a cyber attack against the city in November.
City manager John Collin updated council Monday on the city’s efforts to rebuild its IT system following a ransomware attack; he said no ransom was paid.
Hackers launch ransomware attacks by infecting computers with software and often demand money in exchange for the attack to end.
Collin said the city’s network was disconnected from the internet as soon as the Nov. 13 attack was discovered, and he said it’s not believed any personal identifying information such as banking details was stolen.
“I’m happy to report we have no indications whatsoever that there was any spread of the ransomware from any city-owned assets or systems to others,” he told council.
Collin wouldn’t say what parts of the network were affected by the attack or provide any information he said could help the “hostile actors.”
“We do not want to give to these criminals any information that could help refine their tactics and techniques, nor do we wish to provide such information to copycats,” he said.
Collin said, however, that the attack penetrated deeply into the city’s IT system, and therefore, he added, rebuilding the network was more cost effective than repairing the damage.
“Instead of repair, we have decided to build an entirely new network,” he told council. “Not only will this afford us the opportunity to take advantage of all the latest innovations in cybersecurity and in network design, it will also remove the risk of any virus remnant that could occur if we took the approach of a repaired system.”
The cost of the network rebuild, Collin said, will be covered by insurance and the city’s IT reserve fund. “We will not need to adjust up any yearly budget or alter our service delivery to our community because of this IT attack,” he said.
The rebuild of the IT system is expected to take a few more months. Collin said the full cost of the attack and the system rebuild is still being evaluated, adding that he’ll report to council when the total amount is known.
Ahh, October. The time of the year when the air gets crisp, the leaves begin to change and Cyber Security Awareness begins! We may be biased, but we think October is the best month of the year.
We live in a world that is continuously more connected than ever before. The Internet touches almost every aspect of one’s daily life, whether realized or not. Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) is designed to engage and educate the public and private sector through online events and initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online and increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.
The Government of Canada has already provided some great tools to help jump start your online security. We specifically like this infographic on 5 ways to run a #CyberSafeBusiness.
By Colin Perkel
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO _ A shadowy group of cybercriminals that attacked a prominent nursing organization and Canadian Tire store has successfully targeted other companies with clients in governments, health care, insurance and other sectors.
Posts on their NetWalker “blog” indicate the recent infiltration of cloud-services company Accreon and document company Xpertdoc, although only the College of Nurses of Ontario has publicly acknowledged being victimized.
Experts say NetWalker surfaced about a year ago but its attacks took off in March as the criminals exploited fears of COVID and people working remotely. The ransomware, like similar malware, often infiltrates computer networks via phishing emails. Such messages masquerade as genuine, prompting users to provide log-in information or inadvertently download malware.
Earlier ransomware attacks focused on encrypting a target’s files _ putting them and even backups out of reach. Increasingly, attackers also threaten to publish data stolen during their “dwell time,” the days or weeks spent inside an exploited network before encryption and detection.
The intruders promise to provide a decryption key and to destroy stolen records if the organization pays a ransom, often based on what the attackers have learned about its finances, by a given deadline.
To underscore the extortion, NetWalker criminals publish tantalizing screen shots of information they have, such as personnel, financial, legal and health records.
“The data in these cases is extremely sensitive,” said Brett Callow, a Vancouver Island-based threat analyst with cyber-security firm, Emsisoft. “Lots of companies choose not to disclose these incidents, so the individuals and (third-party) organizations whose data have been compromised never find out.”
In an interview, Richard Brossoit, CEO of Montreal-based Xpertdoc, said this month’s attack was a “little terrifying” at first. Fortunately, he said, damage was limited and no confidential client or personal information was compromised, although some records might be permanently lost.
“Once we were able to isolate the problem and knew it was minimal that our customers weren’t really affected at all obviously it was a very big relief,” Brossoit said.
With new computers, his several dozen employees were back up and running within days, he said. Still, Xpertdoc did hire specialists to deal with the cyber-criminals.
“We were able to negotiate a very low ransom,” Brossoit said. “They didn’t ask too much and we were able to actually negotiate much lower than what they were asking.”
Morneau Shapell, one of dozens of potential third-party victims, said it accepted Xpertdoc’s assurances no sensitive information had been compromised.
Accreon, which has until the first weekend in October to pay up, would not discuss its situation.
NetWalker did recently publish gigabytes of internal data from a Canadian Tire store in Kelowna, B.C. In response to a query, Canadian Tire Corporation said store computers were hit and authorities were investigating.
“This incident has not affected the Canadian Tire Corporation computer networks that process customer information or purchases,” the company said, adding store employees were told their personal information had been compromised.
The nurses’ college, which angered members by taking more than a week to publicly admit the attack discovered Sept. 8, did say it was getting back on its feet, although some services remained down.
“We share our members’ distress and frustration that this has happened,” college CEO Anne Coghlan said in a statement. “Members can rest assured that we will notify them directly if we identify any risk to individuals.”
The consequences of ransomware can go beyond the financial and reputational. This month, for example, a hospital in Duesseldorf, Germany, was unable to admit a patient for urgent treatment after an apparent cyber-attack crippled its IT system, authorities said. The woman died.
Such attacks have become increasingly frequent. Earlier victims in Canada include municipalities among them Stratford and Wasaga Beach in Ontario and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen in B.C. health-care organizations and charities. Cloud storage companies, with troves of third-party data, have also become attractive targets.
This year, the University of California San Francisco paid US$1.14 million to regain access to its data. The encrypted information, the school said, was “important to some of the academic work we pursue as a university serving the public good.”
Just how often victims pay _ and how much _ is hard to know. One analysis by New Zealand-based Emsisoft, using available data, estimates ransomware losses for Canadian enterprises could run up to US$1.7 billion this year.
“It’s really difficult to get accurate statistics,” said David Masson, a director with cyber-security company Darktrace. “Those who pay won’t be telling you. If you do pay, you’re probably going to be attacked again because very quickly…you’re going to get a reputation that you paid.”
Those behind NetWalker appear to be Russian speaking. They provide the malware for a cut to “affiliates,” who promise not to attack Russian or Russia-friendly targets.
“Their attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated,” Callow said. “These groups are using the exact same tools as nation-state actors. In some cases, they may actually be nation-state actors.”
Experts say up-to-date anti-virus software, segmenting networks and keeping separate backups are among critical protective measures. In addition, Masson said knowing what is going on within a network is crucial, while Brossoit advised hiring specialists should an attack happen.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 27, 2020.
OTTAWA _ The Treasury Board of Canada says it has uncovered suspicious activities on more than 48,000 Canada Revenue Agency accounts following cyberattacks in July and August.
The treasury says the previously-announced attacks targeted CRA accounts and GCKey, an online portal through which Canadians access employment insurance and immigration services.
Attackers used a method called credential stuffing, which takes advantage of people who reuse usernames and passwords across multiple platforms that may have been previously hacked.
The treasury says GCKey was not compromised, but it has revoked 9,300 credentials for its system and is contacting those users in hopes of blocking subsequent attacks.
Canadians who receive a revocation message can register for new credentials or make use of the SecureKey Concierge, which lets users sign in to 269 government services through partners, such as major banks.
The treasury says the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s investigation into the attacks is still ongoing and affected departments have been in contact with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to provide updates on what personal information has been compromised.
TORONTO, July 9, 2020 /CNW/ – The Cybersecure Policy Exchange (CPX), powered by RBC, today launched a report setting out an ambitious policy agenda that addresses findings from new survey data of 2,000 Canadians collected in mid-May. The report sheds light on Canadians’ online experiences and their priorities related to cybersecurity and digital privacy.
“We live and work in a time of unprecedented technology development and adoption —
further accelerated by events like COVID-19,” said Charles Finlay, Executive Director of Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst. “We need urgent national policies that protect our security and digital privacy, while ensuring equal access for all. That is why we developed CPX–to be a platform for debating and advancing cybersecurity policy that is of critical importance to all Canadians.”
To lay the groundwork for these discussions, CPX undertook a survey of Canadians; some key findings from the report “Advancing a Cybersecure Canada” include:
- 57% of Canadians reported being the victim of a cybercrime;
- 31% unintentionally installed or downloaded a computer virus or malware;
- 28% experienced a data breach that exposed personal information; and
- 22% had an online account hacked;
- 13% have been a victim of phishing; and
- 8% have unintentionally installed or downloaded ransomware.
- Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have adopted new technologies to stay connected making them more vulnerable to privacy and security risks. 55% of Canadians have used Facebook Messenger and 46%have used Zoom.
- Only 26% of Canadians with a smart speaker or voice-operated assistant have restricted the information it can access through its settings.
CPX will focus its work on three high-impact technologies:
- Social Media Platforms: Online platforms that enable users to connect and share user-generated content.
- Only 15% of Canadians trust Facebook to keep their data secure, compared to 62% who trust the federal government and 73% who trust health care providers.
- Internet of Things (IoT): Physical networked devices connected to the Internet, from consumer electronics, to larger industrial and infrastructure applications.
- 68% of Canadians have at least one smart device in their home.
- Biometrics and Facial Recognition: Technologies that measure and analyze a person’s physical or behavioural attributes to recognize or confirm identities, such as facial recognition.
- 41% of Canadians are uncomfortable with being captured by video doorbells like Amazon’s Ring, and 15% support a ban on these products.
This report marks the launch of CPX’s agenda to develop public policy solutions, and raise awareness to the privacy and security challenges of each of these technologies.
“Cybersecurity has quickly become one of the most important issues of our time,” said Laurie Pezzente, Senior Vice-President of Global Cyber Security and Chief Security Officer at RBC. “As a leading organization in cybersecurity entrusted to keep our clients data safe and secure, RBC is proud to support the Cybersecure Policy Exchange and its ambitious policy agenda. Questions of privacy and security are paramount for all Canadians and policymakers, and proper governance of these issues will ultimately contribute to a more prosperous and equitable world.”
On Tuesday, July 14th from 1:30pm – 3:00pm EST members of the CPX team from RBC, Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst and Ryerson Leadership will convene for a live discussion to breakdown their new agenda, survey results and elaborate on the current cybersecurity threat landscape. More information and the registration link can be found here.
Through close public and sectoral engagement with the general public, government, academia and civic institutions on each of these urgent challenges, CPX will work to advance the responsible governance of this technology to protect Canadians.
The full findings are available at https://www.cybersecurepolicy.ca/agenda. An anonymous survey was conducted online by Pollara Strategic Insights on behalf of the Cybersecure Policy Exchange with 2,000 Canadian residents 18 years of age or older, from May 14 to 22, 2020. As a guideline, a probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted by region, gender and age, based on the most recent Canadian census figures to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population.
The Cybersecure Policy Exchange is a new initiative from Ryerson University, dedicated to advancing effective and innovative public policy in cybersecurity and digital privacy. The Cybersecure Policy Exchange is powered by RBC through Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst and the Ryerson Leadership Lab.
Cybersecure Policy Exchange
cybersecurepolicy.ca | @cyberpolicyx
SOURCE Ryerson University