Small Canadian Town Forced to Pay Bitcoin (BTC) Ransom to Regain Access to its Computer Network

Omar Faridi
  • The computer network of Midland, a small town in Ontario, Canada, became inoperational due to a security breach.
  • Malicious hackers installed malware and demanded ransom in bitcoin (BTC) be paid before allowing the town to regain access to its computer network.
  • Midland's officials have agreed to pay the bitcoin ransom.

Midland, a small town in Ontario, Canada, has been forced to pay hackers the ransom they’ve demanded in bitcoin (BTC) as the sparsely populated community’s computer network has become inaccessible. The hacker(s) have reportedly installed ransomware on the town’s computer systems, which has encrypted important files.

Midland’s computers became inoperational for approximately 48 hours and this prevented users from making online payments and accessing their email services. Other services that became inaccessible included the processing of transit cards, marriage certificates, and various other permits.

Critical Services Not Affected

Fire response, wastewater management, and most other vital, or high priority, services were not shut down due to the cyberattack. However, the small town has reportedly agreed to pay the undisclosed ransom amount in bitcoin to the hackers, in order to bring its computer system back online.

The Midland Town Council issued the following statement regarding the security breach:

Under the guidance of cyber security experts, we have initiated the process to pay the ransom in exchange for the decryption keys. Although not ideal, it is in our best interest to bring the system back online as quickly as possible. The Town had previously secured an insurance policy to cover such circumstances. Decryption efforts are underway.

Midland's Officials

According to the town’s officials, “significant progress” was made during the 48 hours when its computer network became unusable. Access to critical email accounts and the internet has been restored, the ransomware incident update noted.

Midland’s officials may have agreed to pay the bitcoin ransom to the hackers because they will be able to claim (or recover) the payment from the town’s cyber insurance policy. Last month, a group of hackers infected the computer systems of the American Professional Golfers Association (PGA) with malware.

$25 Million Generated From Bitcoin Ransomware

However, the PGA refused to pay the ransom in bitcoin demanded by the bad actors, in order to regain access to its computer network. This, despite the hackers claiming they “exclusively” had access to the decryption software while emphasizing that no other decryption programs were available.

As CryptoGlobe reported in July, a group of malicious hackers had targeted porn viewers by attempting to extort $1,900 in bitcoin from them. The malicious actors claimed they had gained access to the victim’s computer systems and recorded footage of them watching porn and would email it to everyone in their contacts list.

Cornell professor Emin Gün Sirer advised not to pay the ransom as it was mostly likely just a bluff.

Despite many people refusing to pay ransom in the pseudonymous cryptocurrency, a research report by New York University, the University of California, San Diego, Chainalysis and Google revealed that bad actors have generated $25 million in the past two years, mostly in cryptocurrency, from ransomware programs.