Hamilton’s recovery from ransomware attack will take ‘the better part of the year’ | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Hamilton’s city manager says there’s still “a long road ahead” to fully restore services affected by a late February cyberattack that knocked out phone lines, transit apps and a host of other electronics.

Marnie Cluckie says there’s no timeline to get all city systems back to normal but suggests it will “take the better part of the year” to get everything up and running.

“There was a significant portion of our servers that were encrypted, so all of those have to be reviewed, scrubbed, sanitized and moved to a clean environment,” she explained.

Cluckie says the bulk of the city’s core services are operating, with many still done manually.

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Mike Zegarac, Hamilton’s general manager of finance and corporate services, says pre-authorized property tax collections should return this month.

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He says a “phase-in schedule” will start in April, and he’s encouraging taxpayers to keep an eye on upcoming withdrawals to confirm accuracy.

“So if you had a first-of-the-month payment plan and you were expecting a withdrawal, property taxes on March 1 will now be withdrawn on April 15,” he said.

“April 1 will be withdrawn on May 1, and the May 1 withdrawal will now be withdrawn on May 15.”

The city hopes to return to a normal withdrawal schedule on June 1.

Meanwhile, payments to third-party vendors and payroll for some city employees still require some manual work, according to Zegarac.

“There are back-end office impacts, and we’re to do some workarounds in the interim process until we can stand up our business solutions,” he said.

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On Monday, the city’s planning division told a sub-committee it was still advancing and taking in new submissions for building developments despite online systems still being inaccessible.

Most of that work plus building inspections and enforcement requests are being handled via e-mail and in-person visits.

The city continues to work with a team that includes third-party crisis management specialists, like Deloitte’s cybersecurity division, in a “forensic analysis” and rebuilding of city hall’s systems.

In February, Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath said attackers demanded a “whole hell of a lot of money” from the city, which is not being paid.

She also confirmed that recovering the systems impacted “won’t be cheap.”

Cluckie says it will be some time before information about what happened and how much it cost will be publicly shared.

“At some point, we’ll come back with a full report to explain to the community what happened, how it happened and what we’ve done to fix it,” Cluckie said.

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