The City of Saint John, N. B., was forced to shut its IT systems Sunday after suffering what it called a “significant cyber attack.”
The municipality of about 68,000 said in a statement its 911 communications network is open. However, it had shut the city’s website, email, online payment system and customer service applications. No late fees for bills will be applied, the statement adds.
A customer service phone line is working and is responding on a priority basis.
The city says updates will be available on its Twitter and Facebook pages.
“We do not know yet whether personal information stored on our networks has been compromised. As a precaution we recommend that users of our systems regularly check their bank accounts and credit cards for suspicious activity,” the statement said. “At this time we are continuing our efforts to contain and eradicate the virus and restore our systems. A timeline cannot yet be provided for full recovery. The city is co-ordinating with federal and provincial agencies and is working with our partners to help manage any risks.”
A year ago experts told IT World Canada that Candian municipalities are vulnerable to cyber attacks, including ransomware. They noted municipalities are government-funded, hold lots of personal data and therefore are easily convinced to pay up because repairing the damage of encrypted systems is so costly. For example, the City of Baltimore in the U.S. estimated that a 2019 ransomware attack on city computers cost at least $18.2 million to restore systems and make up for lost or delayed revenue.