Mas­sive cy­berex­tor­tion at­tack could have af­fected Canada

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

TORONTO — Canada is not im­mune to on­line ex­tor­tion, de­spite ap­par­ently sidestep­ping a mas­sive at­tack that tem­po­rar­ily crip­pled net­works around the world, a cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­pert said.

Atty Mashatan, a pro­fes­sor at Ry­er­son Uni­ver­sity’s School of In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Man­age­ment, said it was noth­ing more than a fluke that Canada ap­pears to have been spared from Fri­day’s ran­somware at­tack that dis­rupted ser­vices in Rus­sia, the United States, Ukraine, Spain and In­dia.

At­tacks such as this one, dubbed “Wan­naCry” for the “Wan­naCrypt” tech­nol­ogy used to ex­e­cute it, hap­pen when a type of soft­ware seizes con­trol of a com­puter, en­crypt­ing its con­tents and ren­der­ing them in­ac­ces­si­ble.

“The ve­hi­cle that the mal­ware go­ing from one de­vice to the other is spam. The most com­mon way that they do that is via a link in an email,” Mashatan said. “It looks as if it’s from some­one you know, in your con­tacts. You click on it, and bingo. The ac­tual mal­ware, the file, is down­loaded.”

Af­ter the mal­ware is down­loaded, the per­pe­tra­tors de­mand hun­dreds or thou­sands of dol­lars to un­lock the vic­tims’ com­put­ers — es­sen­tially hold­ing the doc­u­ments, photos and other items on the com­puter for ran­som.

“This time around we were lucky,” Mashatan said. “There’s so many peo­ple who are email­ing one an­other within the U.K., whereas the traf­fic be­tween the U.K. and Canada is not as much.”

But if the wrong per­son had clicked on an in­fected link, they could have spread the ran­somware to Canada.

A hospi­tal in Oshawa said Satur­day it ap­peared the ran­somware threat­ened its com­puter sys­tem, but a spokesper­son for Lak­eridge Health said the fa­cil­ity’s sys­tem was able to de­flect the at­tack.

“Pa­tient care wasn’t af­fected and nei­ther were any med­i­cal records or health records breached in any way,” Lloyd Rang said Satur­day.

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