Ransomware was behind Toronto Public Library attack

Ransomware is behind last week’s cyber attack against the Toronto Public Library’s IT systems, a spokesperson has confirmed.

Ana-Maria Critchley, the library’s manager of communications and stakeholder relations, made the confirmation in an email this morning. However, she wouldn’t comment on questions about how the incident started and how long it will be before the library’s IT-related services can be back to normal.

“We’re not doing interviews for now,” she said in the email. Any information is being released on the library’s website, tpl.ca.

“There continues to be no evidence at this time that the personal information of our staff or customers has been compromised”, the site says.

The attack started Saturday, Oct. 28.

Library branches are still open, and visitors can still borrow and return books, although the processing and tracking is done on paper rather than by computer. Access to online services such as TPL Kids, Canadiana Online, and others continues to grow.

But library members still can’t access their online accounts or access the library’s digital collection, nor can visitors access public computers or printers.

“Based on our progress to date, we anticipate that it will take a week or more before all systems are fully restored to normal operations,” the site says.

This continues to be a bad year for ransomware around the world, including in Canada. According to B.C.-based Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow, the Medusa ransomware gang says it recently hit an Indigenous band and a native counseling service in Alberta, and the Canadian Psychological Association, whose members are psychologists across the country. The CPA hasn’t responded to an email or phone call asking about the attack.

The BlackBasta ransomware group now lists an Alberta-based provider of insurance and healthcare benefits to construction unions among its victims, he added.

In addition, the Daxin Team ransomware group released its third tranche of data stolen from southwestern Ontario hospitals that share an IT services provider.

Separately, Sophos today released a report on ransomware in the global retail sector (registration required), which pulled out data from its wider survey of over 3,000 IT and security professionals. This report focuses on survey responses from 355 respondents in the retail sector, across 14 countries.

Only 26 per cent of respondents in the retail sector said their organization was able to disrupt a ransomware attack before their data was encrypted. This is a three-year low for the sector, the report says — a decline from 34 per cent in 2021 and 28 per cent in 2022.

The numbers suggest “the sector is increasingly unable to halt ransomware attacks already in progress, Sophos says.

The report found that, for those retail organizations that paid the ransom, their median recovery costs (not including the ransom payment) were four times the recovery costs of those that used backups to recover their data (US$3,000,000 versus US$750,000).

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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