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UPDATED: P.E.I. government addresses malware discovery

- Reuters

P.E.I. provincial government networks were hit with a ransomware attack over the weekend.

In a press release, provincial officials said an investigation is ongoing after a ransomware attack affected government networks for a 90-minute period on Sunday afternoon.

John Brennan, of the province’s Information Technology Shared Services, said there is no indication any government data was obtained by an outside party. However, he said, government servers were briefly rendered inaccessible.

"At approximately 1 p.m., a virus activated and started to encrypt some of the government's server infrastructure,” Brennan said. 

“We took aggressive action at that time to contain and eliminate the virus. The virus activity lasted for approximately 90 minutes."

Ransomware is a virus that encrypts a victim’s files, allowing the attacker to demand a payment in order to allow the files to be decrypted. 

Brennan said ITSS staff spent Monday restoring electronic services of the province. 

He said the attack appeared to originate outside of Canada and that federal cyber-security authorities have been notified.

Brennan did not disclose which department servers were affected by the attack or release the name of the ransomware involved. 

"Virus activity in the world is always evolving. The general security standard is it's never good to let the rest of the world know what virus impacted you because of their security posture and threat," Brennan said.

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