We’ve all seen movies about hackers causing complete chaos by shutting down some sort of major computer system.
Well, the plot of those movies just became reality for a small town in Ontario, whose entire computer network is being held hostage by a hacker demanding money.
Here’s what’s happened, and what the town is planning on doing about it.
The town of Midland has been held hostage by a hacker since September 1st. The hacker is demanding that the town give them an unspecified amount of Bitcoins if it wants its computer system back.
The hacker managed to render all computers connected to the municipal network unusable for 48-hours at one point.
They’ve also managed to infiltrate the financial payment system of the town. The system cannot accept any payments made from credit or debit cards due to the hack and now has to operate as a cash-only system.
The Mayor of the town says that there is no indication right now that the personal information of any of the residents has been stolen.
After over two weeks, the town is now holding negotiations with the hacker and is willing to hand over Bitcoins in exchange for technological freedom. It isn’t known how much money this will cost the town yet.
This is eerily similar to when another town in the province, Wasaga Beach, was also hacked and held for ransom by a hacker demanding Bitcoins.
Wasaga Beach ended up paying the hacker around $35,000, and the whole attack cost the town well over $200,000 to deal with. It's unknown if the Midland hacker is in the same person who hacked Wasaga Beach.
Officials in Midland are hoping to have the full system back in a couple of days and will be updating their cybersecurity to make sure this doesn’t happen again.