British Columbia

Some municipal services unavailable as Whistler continues to grapple with cyberattack

The "cybersecurity incident" first detected April 27 has forced the shutdown of the municipality's email and voicemail and some services.

Suspicious activity first noticed April 27, says resort municipality, whose email and voicemail are down

Ski and snowboard instructors walk through Whistler in a file photo from March 2020. Municipal services in Whistler are being affected by a cyberattack that was first detected on April 27. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Civic officials in Whistler, B.C., are remaining tightlipped as they grapple with an almost three-week-old cyberattack that has forced the shutdown of municipal emails and voicemail and rendered a number of municipal services unavailable.

Few details of what is being called a "cybersecurity incident" have been released.

A spokesperson from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) said Thursday they couldn't comment on specific details because the municipality is in the midst of an investigation. As of late Thursday afternoon, the municipality says there is no evidence that public information has been compromised.

On its website, the RMOW said it limited access to all of its servers on April 27 after noticing suspicious activity. News of the cyberattack was made public the next day.

Water, sewer and emergency systems such as 911 and the Whistler Fire Department are operating as normal, according to the municipality, as are the Whistler Public Library and Meadow Park Sports Centre.

In a news release dated May 11, the municipality said an ongoing forensic investigation was trying to determine "the nature of any information that may have been illegally accessed."

It said if the investigation finds personal information was stolen, the RMOW will reach out to affected individuals.

Louise MacDougall, project manager for Whistler-based MacDougall Construction, said fallout from the cyber attack is affecting her company. 

"Just the unknown turnaround time for receiving a permit and being able to schedule the start of some project," she said. 

"I put in for two different projects last Friday and I know they're working hard to deal with all the paperwork. But at this time they aren't really telling us exactly how delayed we'll be."

Requests by CBC and Radio Canada to speak to a municipal representative were turned down.

In a statement, RMOW chief administrative officer Virginia Cullen said the safety and security of the RMOW's systems was the highest priority.

"It is a painstaking and lengthy process to make sure that our systems are fully secured before we bring them back online," she said.

"We are working with cybersecurity experts to further strengthen our security safeguards in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape," she said. 

About 14,000 people live in Whistler, according to Statistics Canada. The town receives three million visitors per year in non-pandemic years.

with files from Dominique Arnoldi

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