PHISHING: Cybercrime is on the increase in Canada and expensive This twice-weekly series delves deeply into cybersecurity, one of the rising economic risks facing Canada. Our writers describe the effects of ransomware on local governments, medical institutions, startups, and the corporate sector.
It was a Friday the 13th, which is a stale cliché that opens the narrative. PHISHING Cybercrime is on the increase in Canada and expensive Namely, November 13, 2020, on Friday. It’s a gloomy night, close to zero degrees, and there’s a little breeze.
An abnormality was discovered on the city’s internet systems at about 9 p.m. by IT personnel for the City of Saint John, a southern New Brunswick industrial port city.
The city’s emergency services dispatch system failed around 10 p.m., forcing 911 calls to be diverted to Fredericton, the provincial capital.
The city’s website abruptly went black, which went mostly ignored at the time by inhabitants.
Both the city’s and the Saint John Police Force’s internet presences were under cyberattack. Russian hackers had taken the system hostage and demanded a $17 million bitcoin ransom in exchange for release.
Full recovery following a whole network rebuild, including behind-the-scenes work like the restoration of computer programs, was ultimately finished over two years later.
A tiny Canadian community with a population of around 70,000 would not initially appear like a good target for a cyberattack. Nevertheless, statistics from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security’s 2021 Cyber Threat Report, which tracks a 151% year-over-year spike in ransomware assaults globally by mid-2021, suggests otherwise. Between January and November of that year, 235 ransomware attacks were detected in Canada alone.
What occurred in Saint John is now very typical.
Municipalities, school boards, colleges, hospitals, and airlines are just a few of the organizations that appear to be the victims of cyber events.
Moreover, smaller groups have also been targeted, even if bigger entities like the health authority of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2021 have not been exempt.
“They’re not only after the big players anymore. Spencer Callaghan, senior manager of brand and communications at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, stated that they were after everyone (CIRA).
The major thing we see is how pervasive these attacks are becoming and how no firm, regardless of size or industry, is safe from these hazards.
The managing partner of the cyberattack recovery company CYPFER, Ed Dubrovsky, refers to it as a “digital pandemic,” a place over which no one has total authority.
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