Officials and residents of Østre-Toten, a rural area south of Gjøvik, are struggling with what’s now been ranked as the largest and most serious hacker attack ever on a Norwegian municipality. The Friday night attack last weekend has paralyzed computer systems, raised concerns that personal information about local residents has gone astray and forced a local nursing home to provide residents with bells to ring if they need assistance.
“We expect we’ll recover all the data that was encrypted, but it will take some time before we can begin to use it all again,” municipal adminstrator Ole Magnus Stensrud told avisen Oppland Arbeiderblad. He’s had to scramble to ensure operations of public services, life and health.
Now he and computer experts hired in to help are probing how the hackers entered Østre-Toten’s systems, encrypted all contents and downloaded whatever they wanted including sensitive data on local residents. Email systems were expected to be restored this week, while consultants try to rebuild and restore health and welfare systems first, then economic and financial systems.
Meanwhile, workers at the nursing home, for example, were compiling staffing schedules and reports by hand, and digging out good old-fashioned keys to lock and unlock doors that also had become digitalized. It’s all been a rude awakening to how vulnerable computer systems can be, and how dependent people have become on them, Stensrud noted. “We have no idea what this will all cost,” Stensrud said, but it’s expected to be a lot.