Dutch Municipality Hof van Twente has fallen victim to a cyber attack in which computer systems have been shut down. The consequences are far-reaching: driving licenses and passports, for example, cannot be applied for or extended. People who are dependent on benefits, an advance in this December. “This is a nightmare coming true.”
Officials were faced with a persistent failure in computer systems on Tuesday morning. Logging in turned out to be impossible in some cases. A specialized company was called in to find out the cause. “All possible scenarios were considered, including that of a cyber attack,” said Ellen Nauta, mayor of Hof van Twente.
That dreaded cyber attack appears to have indeed occurred. Nauta speaks of an “unknown third party” who shut down municipal systems and gained access to, among other things, servers with information about residents, including highly privacy-sensitive ones.
Big problem is that all that data has been erased by the hacker. “A large part of the situation has now been analyzed and fortunately no indications have been found that data has actually been viewed or distributed,” says Mayor of the municipality Nauta.
At the same time, the lost data can no longer be retrieved. “Not even through the backup that was there of course. Because it has also been affected. That means that we face the immense task of building an entirely new infrastructure for our data and adding new “clean” data to it. “
As an example, the Mayor mentions data registered in the Personal Records Database . Municipalities keep personal data of citizens in it. When someone marries, has a child or moves, the municipality records this. If someone moves, the data moves with them. “It is data that we serve our residents with and we cannot access it now. They may still be accessible elsewhere. ”
“Experts have told us that a situation like this, unfortunately, can happen to any organization. That is a very unsatisfactory answer, but it is the current reality, ”says the mayor. “Of course, that doesn’t end there, a more detailed investigation will follow into the exact facts. But it will take weeks, if not months, before the results are known. ”
Obvious the officials are heavily dependant on their IT service supplier who refuses to provide comments about the situation. Its not the first Municipality of the Netherlands being victimised.