by: Kevin Rollason
Winnipeg Free Press
St. Amant staff who help support children and adults living with disabilities were locked out of the organization’s email system after its computer network was hacked Tuesday.
Ben Adaman, president and CEO of St. Amant, said in a statement the organization was alerted to a network security breach Tuesday.
“Our IT team immediately reached out to a cyber security company to help us secure the network and support us through the next steps,” Adaman said in a statement to the Free Press.
“To date, we have contained the breach to our network. We are keeping our stakeholders aware of the situation. We are still in the process of assessing the situation and do not have any further information to share.”
Adaman said the organization’s services have not been affected. St. Amant supports almost 2,000 people with disabilities.
“We all have the same questions about how this happened, why we were targeted and the scope of the breach,” he said.
“At this time, we don’t have those answers… we will share more information with our stakeholders as it becomes available.”
Matthew Manaigre, president and CEO of Winnipeg-based Avenir IT, said hackers are looking for personal identification and medical information.
“There’s a huge market for medical records and personal information,” Manaigre said. “We’ve known for a long time these hackers aren’t ethical people. They don’t care whose life they’re destroying. It sucks.”
An Angus Reid survey of more than 1,000 Canadian businesses last year found 55 per cent had been victims of ransomware. Of those, almost 60 per cent paid the ransom, while 14 per cent paid more than once. The average ransom paid was $458,247, according to the poll.
Manaigre said about 90 per cent of network security breaches are caused by an employee clicking on a phishing email from a hacker, while 10 per cent are by a hacker working to get through a computer system’s firewall.
Earlier this year, Winpak Ltd., which has manufacturing plants across North America, was hit by a ransomware attack.
Sources told the Free Press the company had to do all tasks manually while its computers were down.
The company would not say how much money was demanded by the hackers or if the company paid it.
Winpak CEO Olivier Muggli could not be reached for comment.