Authorities in Stratford, Ontario, Canada recently paid a hacker with more than $75,000 worth in bitcoin. The Ontario government’s decision follows after the attacker reportedly waged cyberattacks on the city.
According to CTV News, the attacker started infiltrating and infecting the city’s data last April 14, 2019. The hacking entity allegedly encrypted the systems and servers of the city, leaving malware into the database. Following this, Stratford immediately disconnected users from the Internet to stop further malware infection.
In total, CTV News reports six physical servers being destroyed, while two virtual databases had been affected as well. Other systems within the system also fell after the cyber attack.
To restore data and systems in order, Stratford negotiated with the hacker. In particular, the attacker gained access to 10 Bitcoin, which was valued at $7,509.13 each. The total amount paid to the individual amounts to a whopping $75,091.3, reveals CBC News.
While the government paid the attacker, it has also filed a cyber insurance claim in lieu of the events. The city is slated to pay $15,000 of the whole amount.
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency that can be sent via electronic means. This currency does not require disclosure of personal information, making it effective ransom payments, says The Beacon Herald.
Attacks commenced on April 14, 2019. The government only attained access to their accounts on April 29, 2019, two weeks after the incident.
Despite obtaining servers from the city, no personal information or financial details became compromised reveals Deloitte. Deloitte is the consulting company handling the investigation, shares CBC. The incident “could have been worse had the city not already had a number of security controls in place.”
Tech analyst Carmi Levy from London says otherwise. Levy states “the fact Stratford self-compelled means they weren’t backing their data properly.” They also failed in “testing restores and they were leaving themselves vulnerable and they got caught,” reports The Beacon Herald.
The city of Stratford continues to conduct ongoing investigations surrounding the matter. Police officers and the OPP Cyber Crime Unit are conducting research and investigations on the cyber attack. In addition, it claims to have enhanced its security measured to prevent similar cyber attacks from happening.
As the investigation continues, Stratford is unable to provide further comment on the issue, notes CTV News. However, officials from the city already classified the cyberattack as ransomware. The Beacon Herald defines ransomware as a program “that denies access… to the system until a ransom is paid.”