Innocent–looking email infects City of Delta computers

It’s a lesson on how an innocent email can lead to a privacy breach and computer systems getting hacked.

The City of Delta recently fell victim to a cyber breach that infected several computers and temporarily lost a number of files and data.

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Mayor George Harvie said the cyberattack occurred a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s not uncommon, it has happened before,” Harvie said. “Our emergency IT department was very quick to respond. All cities are subject to this now. Talking to my counterparts at the Mayor’s Council, everyone is subjected to this.”

He said a false email came in to about 50 Delta staff email addresses. He said the email seemed innocent enough as the subject line was from Canada Post.

“All these email addresses, people can get off of the Internet,” said Harvie. “The message was from Canada Post. It looked legit. I was one of the ones who clicked on the email and it opened up a virus. We did lose some data, but it was all recoverable. We have back-up systems. We have an extensive firewall. We get hit hundreds of times a day from people trying to get in to our firewall. It is the cost of doing business these days.”

Harvie said all computers that were infected were fixed and fully operational by the next day thanks to Delta’s IT staff.

“It’s a lesson for our staff and for me,” he said.

As chair of the Delta police board, Harvie raised the issue of cyber security at the board’s monthly meeting last week.

“When you look at the cost of our policing, cyber-crime is increasing,” he said. “We are trying to do as much as we can from the police board members, but it’s a problem that is extensive. What I would like to do in the new year is have some more courses for the general public at our seniors’ centres so people can understand why you should be looking at the addresses first.”

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