Government of Nunavut says computer data backups OK, despite ransomware attack
Voicemail for GN’s Iqaluit offices also working again
(Updated, 6 p.m.)
The Government of Nunavut says that backups of data contained on its computer systems have been recovered, following a recent ransomware attack that had shut down most of the GN’s workstations and servers.
That good news means that information on the government’s computers, inaccessible since the Nov. 2 cyberattack, can be restored.
As well, voicemail for territorial government offices in Iqaluit is working again.
The most recent computer backups are from Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, the GN’s information technology division continues to work closely with departmental IT teams “to restore the recovered data and bring all systems back online,” the GN said in a Nov. 12 statement on Facebook.
The GN said it will prioritize the restoration of data for the departments of Health, Family Services, Education, Justice and Finance.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer system or data, usually by encrypting it, until the victim pays a ransom to the attacker.
In many cases, the ransom demand comes with a deadline and warns that if it’s not paid in time, the data will be destroyed.
In the GN’s case, ransomware encrypted individual files across the government’s servers and workstations.
But “we would not pay any ransom,” Dean Wells, the territory’s corporate chief information officer, told Nunatsiaq News last week.
Also last week, the GN said that, as part of the data recovery and restoration, it would collect and reformat all GN computers, and return them within 24 hours.
The GN told Nunatsiaq News that “the reconfiguring process is ongoing. by the end of the weekend all the desktop computers in Iqaluit were collected, they were labelled and categorized.”
That process continues with the “priority departments” of Health, Family Services, Education, Justice and Finance” being reconfigured first.
“We will be able to better confirm numbers at the end of this week,” Chris Puglia, who is handling GN communications during the ransomware crisis, said in an email late Tuesday.
He said that the Community and Government Services Department is working on solutions “to ensure optimal recovery time in both Iqaluit and the communities.”
As for whether GN workers will be paid as usual on Friday, Puglia said “the Department of Finance is currently working to process pay.”
Regarding adult students who receive Adult Learning and Training Support payments, “we should have more information later this week in that regard,” he said.
It’s still unclear how long income support recipients will continue to receive food coupons instead of money.
GN hiring also appears to remain on hold.
“We would like to remind Nunavummiut that government services are open and functional,” the government said in its Nov. 12 statement, adding that the GN can be reached by phone, fax and voicemail.
All information on government programs and services is available online, the GN said.
The GN said it plans to continue providing updates on Facebook, the GN’s website and community radio as soon as they are available.