Hamilton Confirms Ransomware Attack Disrupting City Services 

The City of Hamilton has finally confirmed it’s been hit by a ransomware attack, following days of service disruptions and public confusion. 

Week-Long Cyberattack Disrupts Key Functions

The City of Hamilton is grappling with a ransomware attack that has significantly impacted services for over a week. 

  • First Official Confirmation: City Manager Marnie Cluckie publicly acknowledged the cyberattack during a virtual press conference on Monday, the first since the incident began on February 25th. 
  • Widespread Disruptions: The attack has affected numerous city services, including: 
  1. City phone lines (almost all shut down) 
  2. City council functions (paralyzed) 
  3. Online services (bus schedule app, library WiFi, permit applications) 
  • Uncertain Recovery Timeline: No concrete timeframe has been provided for restoring affected services. 
  1. Cluckie emphasized prioritizing secure system restoration over a rushed fix. 
  • Data Security Focus: The city assures that, to their knowledge, no personal data has been compromised. 
  • Ongoing Investigation: Hamilton police are involved in the investigation. 

Transparency Concerns and Expert Advice

  • Cluckie remained tight-lipped about specific details such as ransom demands and attacker location due to the “sensitive” nature of the situation. 
  • The city has cyber insurance coverage and has engaged cybersecurity firm Cypfer to handle forensics, incident response, and legal matters. 
  1. Experts generally advise against paying ransomware demands, as it can incentivize further criminal activity. 

The focus remains on restoring critical services while ensuring data security. The coming days will likely bring more information as the city and cybersecurity professionals continue their efforts. 

Ransomware: A Devastating Threat for Organizations

Ransomware attacks, a form of malicious software, can be crippling for organizations. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security warns of their “devastating” impact. Hackers strategically infiltrate systems, identifying crucial data and communication channels. This allows them to target high-value information and threaten its public exposure unless a ransom is paid. 

 However, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee regaining access. The Centre emphasizes this risky gamble. 

 Recent attacks on Canadian municipalities highlight the severity.  St. Marys, a small town, paid $290,000 in cryptocurrency after a 2022 attack, incurring total recovery costs exceeding $1 million. Similarly, Stratford paid hackers Bitcoin for decryption keys following a 2019 attack, spending over $1 million on remediation efforts. These incidents illustrate the far-reaching consequences of ransomware, jeopardizing not only data but also causing significant financial losses. 

City of Hamilton Services Disrupted by Ransomware Attack

The City of Hamilton is experiencing disruptions to various services due to a recent ransomware attack. Here’s a breakdown of the key areas impacted: 

Online Systems:

  • Payments are unavailable for several services (fire prevention, permits, dog licenses, etc.). 
  • Unavailable services include building permits, property reports, job applications, and public health results. 
  • The farmers’ market website is down. 

Engineering Services:

  • Permits on hold (road closures, encroachments, etc.) unless submitted before Feb 25th. 
  • Online drawing requests are suspended. 


  • Genealogical information is unavailable. 
  • Potential delays for burials and sales. 


  • Branches remain open with borrowing and in-person programs available. 
  • Unavailable services include WiFi, public computers, printing, online catalog access, and tech help. 

Public Health:

  • Delays in processing student vaccine records. 
  • Suspension of vaccine requirement for overdue students postponed. 

Property Taxes:

  • Payments are accepted at financial institutions, by mail, or in cash at Municipal Service Centres. 
  • Delays for pre-authorized payments. 
  • Tax certificates for closings are unavailable. 
  • Online tax tools (eBilling Portal etc.) are offline. 

Ontario Works & Special Supports:

  • Monthly payments are on schedule, but communication channels were impacted. 
  • Visit 1550 Upper James St. for funeral benefit inquiries. 

City Vendors:

Expect delays in vendor payments processed manually. 

Transfer Stations & Recycling Centres:

  • Only cash is accepted. 
  • Online tools for bin applications, pickups, etc. are unavailable. 

Child Care:

  • Fee subsidy offices closed but staff available for support. 
  • Red Hill Family Centre is operational (except for phones). 
  • Delays in processing faxed referral forms. 
  • Online Child Care Registry unavailable. 


  • The HSR app is down, PDF schedules are available online. 
  • HSR email and phone lines are unavailable. 
  • Bus operators lack access to computerized schedules. 
  • Bus stop announcements not working. 
  • Online booking for Waterdown transit, PRESTO payments, and DARTS services are unaffected. 

Hamilton Water:

Customer service programs may experience delays. 

City Mapping:

Website maps (including interactive zoning) are unavailable. 


  • Centers, arenas, and golf courses are operational (except for phones). 
  • Senior Centre Without Walls program canceled. 
  • Kanétskare Recreation Centre pool closed due to an inoperable emergency phone. 
  • Registration for spring programs paused. 

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Technical Details of the Breach