Computer virus hit Saanich municipal computers on Monday

Virus, now contained, entered system after employee at recreation centre clicked a bad link: CAO

A Saanich employee working in a recreation centre clicked on the wrong link Monday, inviting an invasive encryption virus to spread from one computer onto another through Saanich’s server.

The virus was potentially damaging but Saanich’s IT department was diligent in backing up and protecting important information while removing it from the system, said interim CAO Andy Laidlaw.

“I’m told by IT people it’s contained,” Laidlaw told the News on Tuesday. “The origin is overseas and it’s a similar virus to one that targets organizations.

The threat of the attack leads to blackmail, but we didn’t reach that point or have that problem.”

No one in Saanich’s IT department was available for comment.

Viral attacks are common on local government networks, said Laidlaw, who was the CAO in Campbell River when that city and many more in B.C. experienced a similar attack in 2013.

“We don’t know if it was an individual attack this time or even if it was intentionally targeted,” he said.

Saanich’s corporate services department, which oversees the District’s IT section, is requesting an additional $219,500 to maintain current service levels and licences on District computers in the 2015-19 financial plan.

Council will meet to discuss the financial plan once again on March 17 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.