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UPDATED: Muni recreation bookings delayed due to ransomware attack

District of Squamish says registration for spring programming will be pushed back to March 11

In the wake of last week’s ransomware attack, the District says its online recreation booking service is taking longer to bring back online than originally hoped. The opening of spring resgistration is delayed by a week.

The municipality announced Tuesday that a hacker had attacked its information technology (IT) systems on Feb. 27. At that time, staff hoped the registration system would be up by Wednesday.

On March 3, the municipality issued a statement on Facebook saying that as a precaution to protect the system from the virus attack, the booking service was still offline.

As a result, registration for the spring recreation programming will be available starting March 11 at 8 a.m.

This is the second time a ransomware attack has struck the District of Squamish’s computer servers. Previously, hackers had targeted the municipality in May 2019.

“Like so many government organizations we have become a target for well-funded criminal groups that are insistent upon creating havoc, and we are very thankful that no personal information appears to have been compromised,” said Mayor Karen Elliott in a news release on Tuesday.

“Due to the expertise of our staff, the District quickly moved over to manual operations in key areas, ensuring that citizens saw little evidence of the interruption.”

This latest attack was also a ransomware attack involving District files being encrypted and held for ransom.

The District did not pay the ransom, the release states, and most systems are back up and running with minimal data loss.

There is no reason to believe personal information was compromised, the release states.

District staff say steps taken since the last attack, including additional firewalls, more robust spam protection, greater frequency of backups and overall network security upgrades, helped to minimize the impact of this latest attack.

A forensic analysis is also being done to understand how the attack happened and to prevent a future attack.

"The District is now fast-tracking a move to cloud-based server hosting with virus protection and backups built-in. A new IT role focusing on network security is also being funded in the 2020 budget," the release states.

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