KFL&A Public Health targeted in cyber security attack

KFL&A Public Health says it has been experiencing a cyber security attack, which has affected its online programs. Kraig Krause / Global News

KFL&A Public Health says it has been the victim of a cyber security incident.

The attack took place Friday morning and affected the agency’s servers, making them inaccessible. This resulted in an IT outage, the health unit said.

“We have activated the agency’s incident management system to limit business operation disruptions and to prioritize reinstating IT services to essential public health programs and services,” said Linda Murray, chief executive officer of KFL&A Public Health.

“It should be noted that all operations related to our COVID-19 response were not affected and have continued to fully operate and provide all services, including vaccine clinics, contact and case management, call centre and booking vaccine appointments, and environmental health and infection prevention.”

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The health unit has not been updating its COVID-19 dashboard since Friday, but did not confirm it was due to the attack.

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Professor David Skillicorn from the School of Computing at Queen’s University says it’s likely that it was a ransomware attack.

“The most common form of attack today is ransomware where criminals get access to a system and encrypt the files and then try to get ransom to get those files encrypted again. It is by far the most common thing that does happen,” says Skillicorn.

The health unit says it may have to reschedule virtual care appointments in some of the non-COVID-19 program areas because of the outage. Those affected will be contacted directly.

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Also, the health unit’s offices in Cloyne and Sharbot Lake will be closed for the next two weeks starting Monday while the teams work to get programs back online.

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Offices in Kingston and Napanee remain open.

The heath unit says it’s continuing its investigation of the incident. Murray says there is currently no timeline on when the issue will be solved.

“Our incident management team is working tirelessly and we are hoping to get this issue solved as soon as possible” says Murray.

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