City servers shut down for up to 14 more days following reports that online visitors were being sent to porn site

Malicious attack downs Owen Sound Web sites

The city of Owen Sound has shut down its Web servers last week, following reports from residents that the city’s Web sites was directing visitors to pornographic sites.

The problem, which began February 2, caused authorities the following day to shut down the sites including the city’s main Web site as well as sites for police services, tourism, library and the art gallery.

The sites went up again last Wednesday, but were shut down once more on Thursday, according to a report from the Owen Sound Sun Times. The city’s main site and the tourism site receive at least 1,500 hits each day. Officials said they have no idea how many visitors have been redirected to porn sites.

Early today, the main site still had the message: “Websites on the Owen Sound web server have been temporarily taken off line for maintenance.”

 
The message page showed contact information for the city hall, police, fire and emergency services, tourism, libraries and the art gallery.

“This is not a virus that our IT is dealing with,” Mayor Deb Haswell was quoted in the Owen Sound Times. “It is an advanced attack on our Web server.”

The city is working with a firm that specializes in security issues to rectify the problem, she said.

Nickednamed the Scenic City, the Southwestern Ontario city of Owen Sound has a population of 21,753 located in the mouths of the Pottawatomi and Sydenham Rivers on an inlet of Georgian Bay. It used to be a busy port city.

Doug Edgar, editor of the Sun Times, said that this is not the first time the city’s servers have had problems.

“The site has been down several times in the past for other problems,” he said.

City officials have no idea why Owen Sound was targeted but agreed that the city has never had to deal with an attack of this magnitude, according to Wayne Ritchie, director of financial services for the city.

He said email services have not been affected and that the city may be more active on Facebook and Twitter until the problem is fixed.

Haswell estimates it will take another 10 to 14 days until the sites are operational again.

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