Cyberattack cripples Appalaches school board, cancer support group

The Sûreté du Québec's major crimes unit is investigating two cases of ransomware attacks in which hackers have demanded $20,000 in ransom to decrypt victims' files.

Hackers demand $20K in ransom after encrypting organizations' files

Teachers at the Appalaches school board cannot access online course material and may also not be paid as a result of a cyberattack. (Canadian Press)

The Sûreté du Québec's major crimes unit is investigating two cases of ransomware attacks.

The Appalaches school board in Thetford-Mines and La Rose des Vents, a support group for cancer patients in Sherbrooke, reported the cyberattacks to authorities after they could no longer access their online documents.

Both organizations reported that thousands of their files have been encrypted due to a virus called Zepto.

Hackers are demanding $20,000 in ransom from them in order to regain access to their data.

'It's complicated'

For teachers at the school board, it means they cannot access online course material, and payday could be delayed. 

The school board has until Friday to decide whether to pay the ransom.

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"Teachers are starting to call the union to know if they'll be paid on Sept. 15," said Francis Jacob, the president of the local teachers' union.

The University of Calgary faced a similar cyberattack in June. (University of Calgary)

"That's when they are supposed to receive lump-sum pays and salary readjustments from last year's collective agreement."

The support group for cancer patients refused to pay the $20,000 since personal information was not compromised.

"It's complicated," Anne-Marie Poirier, the executive director of La Rose des Vents, told Radio-Canada.

"We lost documents, including the annual report that we now have to redo. Computers were also attacked, so we had to buy new ones."

The University of Calgary faced a similar ransomware attack earlier this year. The institution paid $20,000 in untraceable bitcoins to hackers in order to regain access to their files.

With files from Julia Page and Radio-Canada