Government of Nunavut says computer data backups OK, despite ransomware attack

Voicemail for GN’s Iqaluit offices also working again

Government of Nunavut ransomware updates have become part of the territorial government’s public communications since the Nov. 2 cyberattack that took down its computer systems. (Screen shot)

By Jane George

(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.

This photo posted on social media shows a sign attached to a computer in a Government of Nunavut office, which tells employees not to turn on the computer. (Photo by Jenna Kamingoak/Twitter)

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.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Not true on

    CGS IT are painting their own picture too colorful. The communication has been nothing but horrible. No concrete answers and for most of the time they left and leave the individual IT groups of the departments with more questions then answers. There was no such thing as working closely, it was about the physical labor that was needed since most technical services were working with specialists from the south. Gladly, services are coming back online, but please be realistic and truthful.

  2. Posted by Former Insider on


    How about publishing a list of contact phone numbers for each GN department and corporation? It would be helpful information.

  3. Posted by Simple Truth on

    Food Vouchers are a straight up lie. I am a recipient of IA soley based on the fact I am disabled and unable to work due to my disability. I went into Family Services Nov 4th just to be told there wont be any support right now and they cant determine how much they should give me in food vouchers cause the computers are down so i dont get any and to come back when computers are up and running. 8 days of either trying to call or visit Family Services with no answers & signs on doors just to realize my wife, daughter and myself are going to starve yet another day.

  4. Posted by Mittimatalik on

    Staff’s should stop looking at personal Facebook from government computer. They’re either on Facebook when they catch up on work. They got cellphone to check their personal Facebook. Maybe this won’t happen again if they stopped going to personal Facebook. Everything that has to do with clients are through government computer. We look isolated because of this, and another thing one of the question was good idea. Every organization should be reachable like who is who on phone book. If people got problems from government like they way worker or employees or employers. Who’s they’re boss is or if it’s engineer where to complain too. Enough is enough. We want these.

    Thanks Mittimatalik

    • Posted by on

      “Staff’s should stop looking at personal Facebook from government computer”…obviously you know nothing about the GN. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. are all blocked on the GN network.

      • Posted by Name Withheld on

        I know for a fact YouTube is not blocked!! Also video streaming works. I’ve seen it and heard it
        So please get your facts straight …

        • Posted by Wolfie on

          Those sites actually are blocked on all GN networks, including other sites as well. However, there are workarounds for everything, including applying for permission to access those sites in the course of your work. People like to brag, facebook is a good resource for checking facts on people for a variety of reasons.

    • Posted by inooya on

      The ransom note posted was a example of one, not the real one. It says it in the story

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