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Nunavut government computer systems coming back online after cyber attack

The government says it refused to pay the ransom and offices were forced to rely on fax machines, paper forms and telephone calls while the system was repaired.

Government employee paycheques are expected to be delivered Friday as normal

A stock photo of a computer. Nearly two weeks after the government of Nunavut was hit with a ransomware strike, its computer systems are starting to come back online. (CBC)

The Nunavut government is slowly returning to normal nearly two weeks after its computer systems were paralyzed by a cyber attack.

Dean Wells, the territory's chief information officer, says departments are beginning to come back online.

Government employee paycheques are expected to be delivered Friday as normal.

All Nunavut government computers were paralyzed on Nov. 2 when a ransomware virus entered the system.

It encrypted individual files on various servers and workstations and locked out regular users.

This ransom note appeared on government of Nunavut computers when users attempted to open any files. (Name withheld by request)

Government didn't pay ransom

The government says it refused to pay the ransom and offices were forced to rely on fax machines, paper forms and telephone calls while the system was repaired.

The virus was likely downloaded to Nunavut's network when an employee, working late, clicked on a web advertisement or email link, Nunavut's director of information, communications and technology Martin Joy said shortly after the attack. 

To contain the attack, the government shut down parts of its network and locked all government employees out of their accounts, including their email and voicemail. 

There were about 2,000 computers that needed to be formatted and updated in Iqaluit, and another 3,000 computers on the government's network in the communities. 

The government says it keeps monthly and yearly backups of its computer system, and takes a nightly snapshot.

With files from Sara Frizzell, Jackie McKay and Meagan Deuling

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