Hamilton City’s Network is the Latest Casualty of the Global Cyberwar.

The attack that took down a large portion of the City of Hamilton’s digital network is only the latest weapon in a global fight against cybersecurity, claims one of Canada’s leading cybersecurity experts. 

Regarding the unprecedented attack on the municipality’s network that affected emergency services operations, the public library website, and the phone lines of council members, not much has been stated by city officials. Although the specifics of the Sunday incident are yet unknown, Charles Finlay, executive director of Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst, believes that the attack is a part of a larger campaign against a shadow firm that is determined to steal money and data. 

“I don’t think that the average citizen of Hamilton or any other city, fully understands what’s at play here,” Finlay stated. “Our security services certainly are, but I don’t think the average citizen is aware of the fact that institutions in Canada, including Hamilton, are at the front lines of what amounts to a global cybersecurity conflict.” 

On Sunday, city hall revealed service delays caused by what it later described as a “cybersecurity incident” that had far-reaching consequences for the city’s network and related services. 

The specifics of what took place, however, remain unknown as local officials maintain a cloak of secrecy. So far, the city has refused to divulge the amount of the damage or how affected departments are operating. Emergency services are described as “operational,” with some activities now being completed “manually,” but officials refuse to disclose specifics.

The city also refuses to reveal whether sensitive data was stolen or is being held ransom.

According to Vanessa Iafolla of Halifax-based Anti-Fraud Intelligence Consulting, a municipality may prefer to delay reporting the extent of the harm in order to preserve an impression of security and control. 

Finlay and Iafolla said they can only speculate about what transpired because city hall hasn’t provided any information. However, given the available details and the consequences of other institutions’ attacks, a ransomware attack is a realistic possibility. 

A ransomware assault is one in which malicious software is installed on a network, allowing users to scan and grab sensitive data. In the case of the city, Iafolla could refer to personal information on employees and citizens, such as social insurance numbers and other identifying information.

“It’s a safe bet that whatever they took is likely of real financial value,” concluded Iafolla. “It’s difficult to speculate exactly what may have been taken, but I would be pretty confident in thinking whatever it is, is going to be a hot commodity.”

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