Cyber attack in Hamilton still plaguing services; program registration on hold

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Published March 5, 2024 at 12:03 pm

Hamilton City Hall
Hamilton City Hall

Registration for the City of Hamilton’s spring recreation programs, which was scheduled to open this week, is paused until further notice – the latest victim of the cyber security attack from more than a week ago that has knocked out much of the City’s IT systems.

Hamilton is still working to restore their online systems after the Feb. 25 cyber incident and Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath assured residents that council and staff “take this matter very seriously.”

The City of Hamilton took “swift action” to investigate, protects systems and minimize impact on the community, the City said in a news release. “We engaged a team of experts, insurers, legal counsel, and relevant authorities and we are working diligently to restore the City’s system in a safe and secure manner.  While a timeline for recovery is not yet known, the City is committed to resolving the situation as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Critical services such as transit, water and wastewater treatment and emergency services are operational. The Customer Contact Centre is operational and able to take phone calls from residents but systems used for online payment are affected. Where possible, staff are processing routine transactions manually and/or accepting cash.

The City is also conducting an investigation to determine if any personal information was accessed or compromised.

What is affected:

Accounts Payable Information for City Vendors

Vendor payments are currently in progress. Payments began at the end of February. However, currently, all payments are being processed manually, so delays are anticipated. Vendors are asked to continue sending invoices using the normal process.

Cemeteries

Hamilton Municipal Cemeteries Offices are currently open, and most services are available but phone lines are currently not operational. For assistance, call 905-973-4064 for Sales or 365-378-5641 for Administrative requests. Genealogical information is currently not available and there may be some delays experienced related to services, such as burials and sales, because all transactions and contracts must be processed manually.

Child Care

Most Child Care Services remain available, and staff remain available to support. Child Care Fee Subsidy offices are closed, although, staff remain available to support clients. Therapeutic referral for child care intake cannot receive faxed forms at this time. Please send therapeutic referrals by email to [email protected]. As well, the online Child Care Registry is not available. To learn more, email Hamilton West ([email protected]), Hamilton East ([email protected]) or Hamilton Mountain ([email protected]).

Council & Committee Meetings

All Committee meetings up to March 15 have been cancelled due to ongoing system outage issues. There is no internet access in the council chambers.

Customer Contact Centre

The Customer Contact Centre is operational and able to take phone calls from residents at 905-546-2489 (CITY). Some delays may be experienced.

Engineering Services

Online Drawing Requests through SPIDER are unavailable. Right-of-Way Permitting capabilities are limited, and these permits can’t be issued at this time. This includes access to Road Closure Permits, Sidewalk Closure Permits, Encroachment Permits, Municipal Consent (Utility Installations), Special Utilities Program (Utility Installations) and Excavation Permits (Road Cuts). Permit applications received prior to February 25 can be reviewed by staff. Permit applications submitted after February 25 can be received by the system but can’t be reviewed.

GIS Systems (City mapping)

All City of Hamilton GIS systems are currently down. The City’s website mapping is unavailable, including access to Interactive Zoning Mapping and Find My Ward

Hamilton Public Library

All Hamilton Public Library branches are open. Most services, programs and online resources are available. Visit www.hpl.ca for service, event, and program updates. The Hamilton Public Library website is also available. Study Halls are open, Bookmobiles are open and in-branch borrowing is available and the online catalogue is available to browse. Access to Libby, OverDrive and most online resources (Kanopy, Hoopla, etc.) are also available.

What is not available at Hamilton libraries are Wi-Fi, public computers, printing, scanning and photocopying. borrowing or placing a hold using HPL’s online catalogue, self-check kiosks, virtual programming, Makerspaces, extended access and help with tech devices.

Hamilton Public Library

Long-term Care Homes

Macassa and Wentworth lodges are fully functional with all aspect of care occurring but the lodges are unable to receive phone calls via their main lines. Residents, families and all others are asked to please contact either Macassa Lodge reception at [email protected] or call 905-973-3954 (Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4 pm) or Wentworth Lodge reception at [email protected] or call 289-442-6253 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm)

Municipal Service Centres and Citizen Service Centre (City Hall)

Municipal Service Centres and the Citizen Service Centre are open and offering service, with some limitations. Available services include parking ticket, administrative penalty and provincial offence payments (within the due date), blue bins, trash tags and waste calendars, marriage licences, taxi scripts and Presto, burn permits and migrant farm payments.

Payments can only be made by cash or cheque and tax payments can only be made if the property owner has the tax roll # and tax stub or can show photo ID verifying the address as property tax lookups are not available. Invoice payments can only be made if the resident has a copy of the invoice and green cart service requests are not available.

Online City Services

Online payments processing is unavailable for Fire Prevention Service Request (inspections, file search, education, etc.), Open Air Burn Permits, Dog Licensing (new & renew), Animal Services Donations and Business Licensing/Permit Payments.

Online Systems – The following online systems are down: ePLANS – Online Building Permits; Online Zoning Verification/Property Report Application, Job Applications Portal, Marriage License Online Application and Public Health Inspection Results (Food Safety, Public Pools & Spas, Personal Services etc.)

The Hamilton Farmers’ Market website is also down.

Ontario Works and Special Supports

All Ontario Works offices, including the Special Supports program, remain open to the public. Monthly payments are being issued as scheduled but in-person meetings are cancelled and communications for both programs either through phone and/or MyBenefits are impacted.

Property Taxes

The instalment due date of February 29, 2024, remains unchanged. Taxpayers can make payments at their bank (at their branch or through online banking) or by mail. Payments by cash or cheque can also be made at the City’s Municipal Service Centres.

For taxpayers enrolled in the City’s pre-authorized payment plans, scheduled withdrawals may be delayed. Lawyers requiring tax certificates for closings will need to plan to readjust after closing once the disruption has been resolved.

Online tax tools Property Inquiry Tool, Tax.Hamilton.ca and eBilling Portal are also down.

Provincial Offences Administration Office

The Provincial Offences Office is open. General inquiries and payments can be made at the POA Counter. Courts are running as scheduled but phone lines are down.

Recreation/Senior Centres, arenas, golf courses and camps are fully operational.

Recreation programming is continuing uninterrupted and March Break Camps are proceeding as scheduled but the Senior Centre Without Walls program is cancelled during the outage as it uses the phone system.

The pool at Kanétskare Recreation Centre is also closed because the emergency phone line is currently not operational. The facility is still open and there are no impacts to gym and land programs. The Red Hill Family Centre is fully operational but the main phone line is currently down.

Telephone Lines

The Customer Contact Centre is operational and available to take phone calls at 905-546-2489 (CITY). Direct lines to program areas and City Councillor Offices are currently unavailable.

Transfer Stations / Community Recycling Centres are open but cash is the only payment method accepted at this time and software applications and systems are not available. The online tools for ordering a replacement green bin or blue box, Bulk Pickup request, Waste Special Consideration request and ordering additional trash tags request are also down.

Transit

City of Hamilton Transit Services are operational. DARTS service is operating normally. DARTS can be reached by phone at 905-529-1717. PRESTO payments are available and unaffected by this outage. The myRide app for on demand transit in Waterdown is available for booking online.

HSR’s email and phone lines are not operational, however, and the HSR now app is offline. PDF bus schedules are available on the City’s website. Bus driver will also be operating without the aid of the computerized onboard schedule. The bus stop annunciators are not operational so ask the driver if you require assistance.

Water and Wastewater

The City’s water and wastewater systems are unaffected by the cybersecurity incident, and there will be no disruption to those services. Some associated customer service programs are impacted, and delays should be expected.

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