Three municipalities in southwestern Ontario have each reported cyberattack incidents that targeted key functions within their respective communities.
In Strathroy, a manufacturing company fell victim to ransomware, while the online system that supports hospitals in both Listowel and Wingham was similarly hacked.
CTV News reported that due to the cyberattack crippling their systems, the hospitals in both cities were forced to temporarily close their oncology and diagnostic clinics. The hospitals also had to deny non-emergency care patients, telling them to come back later.
“I don’t have a specific timeframe for when we’ll have it back up and running,” said Listowel Hospital Alliance CEO Karl Ellis.
The Ontario Provincial Police cybercrimes unit is investigating the attacks, hospital officials said.
The three attacks were preceded by previous ransomware incidents that also recently made headlines in Ontario. Last week, the city of Woodstock reported that a virus had blocked staff from accessing their email or data; a ransom demand had not been received.
Back in April, the municipality of Stratford was similarly hit by ransomware; despite city staff’s efforts to quarantine the malware, officials ultimately gave in to the hacker’s demands and paid a $75,091.30 ransom just two weeks ago.
“Unfortunately, we can expect more attacks just like this to target our governments, healthcare institutions, major companies, corporations,” commented tech analyst Carmi Levy in an interview with CTV News.
“Just like you plan for a major fire, a flood, a tornado, a hurricane, you also have to plan for a cyberattack, and you have to have a section there on it.”