The City of Hamilton says it is now recovering and rebuilding its IT system after being hit by a ransomware attack late last month.

In a March 14 update, the municipality said that it is no longer in the “incident response” or “recovery stage” of the Feb. 25 cyber breach.

“(Our) work to this point has focused on containment and isolation of our infrastructure to prevent the cyber criminals from inflicting further damage. This portion of work has been completed,” the city said in a news release.

Hamilton said that it is at the point where testing is being done to ensure that its computer systems can operate safely.

“Recovery and rebuilding will help support internal operations with the goal of making even more City services available as quickly and securely as possible,” it said.

At this time, the city said it is continuing to work with “cyber experts and authorities at various levels,” who are doing “ongoing forensic analysis of the criminals’ activity within our systems.”

“City staff are really rising to the occasion, and I am so grateful to our team of experts who continue to work around the clock to respond to this incident and find creative ways to deliver the services our community relies on each day,” City Manager Marnie Cluckie said in a release.

“We are committed to providing service to Hamiltonians and recovering safely and securely.”

The cyberattack impacted taxes, telephones lines, transit, Ontario Works and Special Supports as well as a number of other city services like account payable payments to vendors, certain online tools for waste and recycling, child care offices, phone lines for recreation and senior centres, and its mapping system.

Hamilton also took the step of cancelling all council and committee meetings as there was no internet access in council chambers. Those meetings are set to resume on March 27 “to ensure important and time-sensitive issues can advance,” the city said.

Further, residents can now obtain guest Wi-Fi connectivity at most libraries and use what ever form of payment they wish at municipal service centres and transfer stations.

Throughout this situation, the city said that it has continued to deliver most of its programs and services “through either manual processes or by finding alternate ways to deliver the service.”

This is the case for transactions that are usually processed online like marriage license and burn permit applications, which can be processed manually in person at city hall and municipal service centers.

Curbside waste collection, transit, water and wastewater treatment as well as emergency services were not directly affected.

Development applications and building permits also continued to be processed and building inspections continue, the city said.

Further, the municipality said that payments to vendors are “in progress,” and support payments continue to be processed.

“I want to express my thanks to Hamiltonians for their patience and understanding over the last few weeks,” said Mayor Andrea Horwath.

“As City staff continue to prioritize the response to this cybersecurity incident, I want to assure residents that we are taking this matter very seriously and are doing everything we can to minimize the impact and protect the community.”

More information about the cyberattack, including details about service disruptions, can be found online.

Hamilton’s Customer Contact Centre as well as 905-546-2489 is also available to respond to questions and concerns from residents.

  

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