#cyberfraud | #cybercriminals | Hackers inflict major cyber attack on Government of Nunavut’s network

A ransomware cyber attack appears to have crippled essential electronic communications within the Government of Nunavut and some public services may be affected throughout the territory.

This means if you work for the Government of Nunavut you may not be able to gain access to your email or consult online files, or if you reside in Nunavut, your access to public services may be difficult or impossible.

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq issued a statement on Twitter on Saturday night, saying the GN’s internet system had been hacked earlier on Nov. 2 by what he called “a virus that has targeted public services.”

“We’re working around the clock to see the scope of the issue and get everyone back online. You will not have access to your GN account until we understand the full extent of the issue. This affects more than just Iqaluit, but we are not sure how far it reaches,” Savikataaq said.

In a Facebook post, the GN identified the virus as a ransomware attack.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer system or data, usually by encrypting it, until the victim pays a bribe to the attacker.

In many cases, the ransom demand comes with a deadline and if it’s not paid in time, the data is destroyed forever.

Later in the evening of Nov. 2, the GN issued another statement on Facebook: “GN IT is actively addressing the computer network issue, working with IT security companies and internet and software providers. Some Government services might experience delays. Thank you for your patience while we work to resolve this issue. At this time we do not have an estimate as to when services will be restore.”

Jimi Onalik, an associate deputy minister in the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, said the GN is now working with IT security companies, internet providers, and software providers to fix the problem.

But as of the evening of Nov. 2, he said the GN cannot say when services will come back.

Ransomware is often spread through emails that contain malicious attachments, or by a technique called “drive-by downloading.”

This drive-by downloading takes place when a user visits an infected website. Then malware is downloaded and installed without the user’s knowledge.

Ransomware attacks use a “Trojan,” a fake website or legitimate-looking file that the user is tricked into downloading or opening when it arrives as an email attachment.

After that, the hacker who controls the malware threatens to publish the user’s data or perpetually block access to the data unless a ransom is paid.

Advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion, in which it encrypts the files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.

The incidents of ransomware scams in Canada are rising at an alarming rate, according to the RCMP.

In 2015, Canadians were affected by 1,600 ransomware attacks a day.

“By September 2016, the attacks nearly doubled. Those are the known cases. Unfortunately, many incidents still go unreported,” the RCMP’s online information on ransomware says.

“Extortion via ransomware is a criminal offence, and the money you pay will be used to fund criminals and/or criminal organizations and motivate them to further victimize others.”

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