Whitehorse Daily Star

No unauthorized access to citizens’ data occurred: YG

On Friday, the Yukon government was still grappling with the effects of a cyber attack from an unknown source.

By T.S. Giilck on September 18, 2023

On Friday, the Yukon government was still grappling with the effects of a cyber attack from an unknown source.

The attack began early last Thursday morning, taking down the main government website, email and telephone services for most government employees.

A government news release is-sued Friday afternoon stated, “On Sept. 14, the Government of Yukon experienced a cyberattack targeted at Yukon.ca resulting in services being intermittent or unavailable from approximately 12 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The attack is continuing; however, efforts to mitigate the attack have been effective, and approximately 90 per cent of government services were restored by the morning of September 15.

“There is no evidence that this attack resulted in any unauthorized access to private citizen data, government systems or government files.”

On Friday afternoon, the Star spoke with Noah Gehmair, the director of technology and infrastructure , along with Sean McLeish, the assistant deputy minister of Information Communication Technology.

The type of attack is a distributed denial of service or DDoS attack.

These types of cyberattacks send abnormally high levels of traffic to a network to overwhelm its systems but they do not try to access information.

At its peak, Gehmair said, the site was seeing traffic of more than one million hits, when 10,000 or so are the norm. It was more than the system could handle, he said.

“It was unprecedented in scope,” the two men said.

Gehmair compared the attack to “cyber-vandalism”.

It was more annoying than truly damaging, he said.

“There is no indication of any data breaches,” the men said.

The government IT department began to work on the attack as soon as they reported for work, McLeish said.

By early afternoon, services were being restored.

The governments of Nunavut, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island were also seeing somewhat similar problems.

McLeish and Gehmair said there may be a link, but that hasn’t been established as yet.

The news release stated, “In addition to shutting down service to Yukon.ca, the attack resulted in impacts to the Government of Yukon’s ability to access the Internet and some of our Internet-based services. This internal outage lasted approximately from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.”

Gehmair said the government is working with the RCMP to investigate the incident.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The government stated, “We are working with the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and our federal, provincial and territorial counterparts to assess next steps and further improve our response to this type of attack.

“We have also been in contact with the RCMP to facilitate any investigations they may undertake.”

The two men said they were confident any further such attacks would have more minimal effects, due to the steps being taken by the government.

It’s impossible to guarantee that future events won’t occur, with technology always changing and advancing, Gehmair said.

Comments (2)

Up 11 Down 2

Douglas Martens on Sep 20, 2023 at 8:12 am

"No unauthorized access to citizens’ data occurred": YG

...so in other words the hack was authorized?

Up 10 Down 8

Juniper1 Jackson on Sep 19, 2023 at 6:18 am

I've read that Canada takes 2,200 hits a day in cyber attacks. China is the primary hacker country with Russia coming in second. There is a LOT in the Yukon that both China and Russia want.

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