Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, at 10:01 a.m. Please see bottom of article for most recently updated information.
Many of the town of Greater Napanee’s services were disrupted on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, after its servers were believed to have been compromised by hackers, but Town officials said that emergency services were unaffected by the alleged breach and remained fully operational.
The breach came to light between 2 and 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, as Town employees experienced email and internet service disruptions, and the Town’s point-of-sale systems stopped working at various locations.
“Please be advised that payments being made by card at our Municipal Administration Centre [at 99 Advance Avenue] and the Strathcona Paper Centre are currently unavailable. Notice will be provided once machines are back in service. We apologize for the inconvenience,” the Town posted on its social media shortly before 3 p.m., the only public notification of any kind addressing the issue that day.
The Town quickly asked staff to cease using their internet-connected devices and quarantined all computers and communication devices pending a forensic audit of the breach.
The Town has not provided any timeline for when internet-dependent services, such as point-of-sale payments, will be operational again.
Bill Hammond, Chief of Greater Napanee Emergency Services, indicated that, while he had been informed of the possible disruption to communication services early on Thursday afternoon, there had been no adverse effects to emergency response.
“We’re operating as normal,” said Hammond, confirming that GNES dispatching services are operated independently from Greater Napanee Town communications. “We’re dispatched through a contract with Kingston Fire & Rescue and the CACC.”
The Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC) also operations out of Kingston. Hammond indicated he could not comment further at this time.
Similarly, the Napanee Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) was also unaffected, as confirmed by Constable David Yome, Media Relations Officer for the Lennox and Addington County Detachment of the OPP. Yome clarified that the OPP’s dispatches are also independently operated from a dispatch centre in Orillia, Ontario.
This is a developing story, check back for more information as it becomes available.
Update (Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, at 11:25 a.m.):
Citing legal advice, representatives from the Town of Greater Napanee declined to comment on the apparent hacking of the Town’s servers on the morning of Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.
The servers became compromised the day prior, leading to a disruption of services at the Town’s Municipal Administration Centre, including point-of-sale services and all internet activity. No signage outside or within the 99 Advance Avenue indicated a disruption of Town services, though the Town did post about the disruption on social media on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024 (see above).
As outlined above, the Town’s emergency and police services remain unaffected by the incident, as Greater Napanee Emergency Services’ dispatch and communications services are operated by Kingston Fire & Rescue and the Lennox and Addington County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) communications and dispatch services are operated out of an Orillia.
According to Zatterberg, it is unknown if/when the Town of Greater Napanee will issue a statement addressing the situation.
This remains a developing story. Further coverage will be provided if/when more information becomes available.