Nova Scotia

Cyberattack targets websites for port authorities in Halifax, Montreal

Ports say operations are unaffected and traffic continues to move normally.

Traffic continues to move normally through ports

A container pier and vehicles.
The Port of Halifax, pictured, is one of three Canadian ports that saw their website crash on Wednesday. (CBC)

The Port of Halifax has been hit with a "denial of service" cyberattack that has shut down its public website but did not compromise internal data or interrupt operations. Port authorities in Montreal and Quebec are investigating similar issues with their websites. 

Halifax Port Authority spokesperson Lane Farguson says problems with the website were noticed Wednesday morning.

"Our external websites are currently unavailable right now and that is due to this ongoing denial of service attack and our IT department is working right now to resolve this issue," Farguson told CBC News.

"What's important is that our internal systems continue to operate normally and port operations have not been affected by this. 

"Traffic continues to move through the Port of Halifax."

Denial of service attacks can flood the target website with traffic, triggering a crash.

Most of the Port of Halifax's website was back up on Thursday, Farguson said Friday.

He said the port is always seeking to improve aspects of its operations, including cybersecurity.

"Constantly taking a look at what we're doing, looking at what best practices are and then looking at possibilities for making sure that we are improving not just as required but ahead of any sort of requirement," he said.

Other ports affected

The Port of Montreal website also went offline at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the port told Radio-Canada their security team said port operations are unaffected and there is no risk of any data breach.

Renée Larouche, head of communications for the Port of Montreal said the port is not in crisis mode and an IT technician has been tasked with getting the web page back online.

Larouche said there are alternatives for suppliers who want to contact the port, such as a telephone call, which do not require using the website.

The Port of Quebec website is also offline. The Quebec Port Authority said on Wednesday its IT team is still investigating whether that is the result of a cyberattack. Port operations have not been affected.


Paul Withers


Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

With files from Pascal Robidas