Russia linked to cyberattack on government services
A suspected cyberattack from Russia could have been the cause of a breakdown in government IT systems, it emerged yesterday afternoon.
David Burt revealed that at least one other country was also believed to have been targeted.
The Government was in the early stages of confirming what happened, the Premier said, but it was thought no digital information was taken in the incident.
Mr Burt explained: “The Government is experiencing some challenges with our IT systems.
“There has been an incident, which is affecting not only the Bermuda Government but some other regional governments as well.
“Our initial indication is it’s come from an external source, most likely from Russia, and we are working with agencies to make sure that we can identify any particular challenges and make sure that services are restored as quickly as possible.”
The Government earlier advised members of the public that its telephone, internet and e-mail systems were disrupted and that all departments were affected.
Mr Burt said teams were working with “local partners, engaging all hands, overseas partners and there may be a need to engage further” to establish the source of the incident.
The Premier said that Vance Campbell, the Minister of Tourism and the Cabinet Office, who oversees IT, would be able to provide an update “as things become clearer”.
The immediate impact is that the House of Assembly was postponed for a second successive week before being reconvened hours later for a noon start.
“As a result of our network interruption, there will be no sitting of the House of Assembly,” a government spokeswoman had confirmed.
She added: “It is anticipated that there will be further service disruption today. Investigation into the incident continues and steps to restore service are ongoing.
“Work to facilitate payroll and vendor payments has commenced, but payment delays are expected. Cashiers are accepting cash and cheques only at this time.
“Government House has been apprised of the situation and is working collaboratively with the Government. All public officers are expected to be in attendance today as usual.
Mr Burt added: “What we are focused on right now is just making sure that we identify any challenges.
“It does not at this point in time appear that any data has been taken, so that’s at this point in time but it does appear that systems are affected.
“We are trying to identify which systems are affected, which ones are not so that we can return to servicing persons, so people at TCD, people at immigration et cetera, can get the government services which they rely on.”
The Premier explained that the Government’s IT system was run by the Department of Information and Digital Technologies but that the Ministry of National Security handled cybersecurity matters more broadly.
He added: “IDT has to report any breaches to the Ministry of National Security.
“The Ministry of National Security will be consulting with external [organisations].
“We do know at least one other country that has been affected; suspected on the same level of attack.”
Mr Burt said: “We do know there’s other issues which are taking place and people are just trying to identify whether it’s widespread or not, but we are taking action.
“There’s been significant investment that has been made recently to improve government security, recognising and understanding that we’ve been moving many items over to the cloud.
“Cloud services have not been affected.”
Asked to confirm if the incident was thought to be an “attack”, the Premier replied: "It remains to be seen but clearly there is something external that is affecting government services and the initial indication is it’s Russian-based.“
Mr Burt said it was thought “other jurisdictions in the Caribbean” were also affected but added: “I will wait for the confirmation to come from the minister.”
The Bermuda Police Service said yesterday that its services were functioning and that emergency and non-emergency telephone numbers were operating as usual.
It added that the Community Reporting Portal — portal.police.bm — also continued to be up-and-running.
The Royal Gazette asked the BPS to comment on any involvement after the incident that affected the Government’s IT systems as well as whether police contacted overseas counterparts or agencies.
A BPS spokesman said today: “The Bermuda Police Service are supporting the Government in their efforts to return to normalcy.”
No further comment was provided when the BPS was asked whether or not it was investigating a suspected cyberattack.
The Government will have a full press briefing today to further update the public.
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• UPDATE: this article has been updated to include information and a comment from the Bermuda Police Service
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