Saint John won't pay ransom to hackers, city manager says

·2 min read
The City of Saint John was targeted by a cyberattack on Friday, Nov. 13.
The City of Saint John was targeted by a cyberattack on Friday, Nov. 13.

(Julia Wright/CBC file photo - image credit)

The city of Saint John has no plans to pay hackers a ransom after its network was attacked three months ago.

In his regular update to common council Monday, city manager John Collin said the city had a backup system in place and "the vast majority" of the data has been or will be recovered.

"Between the reality that there has been little to no compromise of data and that our corrupted data is recoverable through backup, I have decided to direct the staff that we cease any exploration of ransom payment options," he said.

The city was hacked on Nov. 13 of last year and has been trying to recover, incrementally returning email and phone services to employees and pivoting to different payment methods for parking and building permits. Some services still require cash-only payments.

Saint John city manager John Collin said the city is still working on rebuilding its network after a Nov. 13 cyberattack.
Saint John city manager John Collin said the city is still working on rebuilding its network after a Nov. 13 cyberattack.

Collin previously said the city will be rebuilding its network from scratch. He said the city is expected to have the new network up by June.

The city has not shared details about who the attackers were or exactly what information was compromised. Collin previously said this is to make sure the city doesn't share information that could be useful to the attackers. It's not clear if deciding not to pay the ransom means the city will share more information about how this attack came about.

Saint John hired a private consultancy firm to investigate the hacking, and on Monday, Collin said consultants "have no indication of any significant breach of information from our networks."

He said this includes any police data and personal banking information of residents. However, he still urged residents to keep an eye on their online banking and be vigilant against suspicious activity.

Council previously heard the city will be paying for the cost of this attack from its IT reserves and it would not be affecting the overall city budget.

Also on Monday night, councillors were presented with photos of a new website for the city which is expected to launch in the coming weeks. Work on the website began two years ago.