The slew of cyberattacks –– especially ransomware attacks –– has caused widespread damage to the municipal governments in the Canadian state of Ontario. The local police department has been diligently involved in the ransomware removal and recovery processes, prompting them for a recent announcement on the matter at hand.
The department remained discreet regarding the exact number of municipalities that have been attacked by ransomware in Ontario’s territory. However, in recent times, two municipalities have been revealed as victims.
OPP has taken up the mantle for creating awareness regarding ransomware attacks. The reason behind the awareness drive is the lack of public understanding about ransomware attacks. OPP noticed that attacks were not restricted to government systems; several businesses were also targeted.
Regarding the ransom payments, OPP vehemently opposed payments of any kind to the cybercriminals. They explained two reasons behind this resistance. First, paying money to a cybercriminal group only supports the development of the industry. Second, there is no guarantee that paying a ransom can be followed by a ransomware removal procedure.
The department also educated users about how a ransomware works. An official stated that a ransomware attack locks user data permanently and demands money for ransomware removal. The objective behind an attack is the permanent disabling of IT operations so pressure can be mounted on the affected parties for immediate ransom payments. The only solution for the ransomware removal process –– to decrypt the data –– is linked to an encrypted key, which the cybercriminals possess.
Furthermore, the department also briefed about the common ransomware distribution techniques. It was stated that a cybercriminal group enters a network directly through hacking. Similarly, sometimes phishing strategies are used via spam email campaigns for tricking users. The ransom amount is provided via a ransom note that lists the amount in the form of a cryptocurrency –– mostly Bitcoin –– that has to be sent to a cryptocurrency wallet.