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Hackers swarm around Ottawa city hall

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Ottawa city hall has been targeted by cyber attacks more than 8,000 times in the past year.

A brief document obtained under a freedom-of-information request shows that through May of this year, monthly attacks ranged from a low of 279 last December to a high of 1,584 in June of 2018, for a total of 8,006.

The city says it won’t give any details about the attacks because it would “pose a security risk to the organization.”

But a cyber-crime expert who works with Ontario municipalities says town and cities are increasingly becoming targets for hackers — and they aren’t fully aware of the dangers.

“A lot of Ontario municipalities … are being hit by ransomware attacks,” said Aleksander Essex, a Western University professor of software engineering

“Ransomware goes in and encrypts all the files and makes a system unusable.” The owner then has to pay money to get the files unlocked, usually in Bitcoin or another cybercurrency because it cannot be traced. The city of Atlanta was hit this way in a catastrophe for the city last year.

Cyberattacks have hit Stratford, Wasaga Beach and Midland in Ontario, and attackers hijacked the city of Cambridge computers to use them for mining cybercurrency. There was no lasting damage in Cambridge.

Stratford was hit by ransomware which shut down municipal phones, email and online forms. City officials have never said whether they paid the ransom.

“A lot of the ransomware that we are starting to see in Ontario municipalities are very sophisticated. The bad guys are what you would call a persistent threat. So they live inside your environment.”

Once they have gained access to the computing infrastructure for a city, they don’t attack immediately. “They’ll gain access and just kind of lurk there for a long period of time, studying the layout. They will identify all the core systems.

“And then when they are ready they pull the trigger, and on top of encrypting all your files they will actually torch the backups as well. So it’s actually quite sophisticated stuff.”

Essex studies online voting security and deals with municipalities across Ontario.

“The level of sophistication from the technological standpoint is lower than what you would hope it would be,” he said.

“Banks are more sophisticated (than municipal governments). Banks have whole anti-fraud units. They have the money to recruit the best cyber-security people. They recruit from law enforcement, they can just bring in everything. Municipalities — their budget are just considerably more constrained.
“But more than that, municipalities have a certain cyber naïveté in certain cases. There’s a certain coming of age that we are seeing in the public sector regarding cyber matters.”

“They are being increasingly targeted. … The municipalities take a long time to wake up to stuff. They are only now starting to become aware of the threat of ransomware.”

And he said the type of attack in which someone tricks a municipality into paying a phoney invoice is also popular. (Ottawa paid more than $100,000 to a con artist last year after the city treasurer received what appeared to be emails from her boss ordering the payment. The emails were fake.)

Essex sits on Western’s cybersecurity committee and said the university has developed new procedures for paying large bills such as construction contracts. “There has to be a multi-factor authentication of who you are paying the money to.”

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Biometric Vaccines Are Here Preceding Forced Digital ID

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The future of vaccines is here, just in time for the coming forced digital ID. This isn’t some sci-fi movie based on some conspiracy theorists’ idea of Revelation where every living being is required to be tagged. Biometric vaccines are real, are in use and have been deployed in the United States.

Biometric vaccines are immunizations laced with digital biometrics, created from merging the tech industry with big pharma. This new form of vaccine injects microchips into the body creating a global ID matrix to track and control every person. Not only has this satanic system already been rolled out, billions may already have been injected unaware.

ID2020 Alliance, a program aimed at chipping every person on earth, has collaborated with GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations) to inject these microchips into the body through immunization. 

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How to get more of everything you love about Ottawa

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We love Ottawa, and we want to help you make the most of living in the capital.

Ottawa Magazine is launching a new membership program, with front-of-the-line access to events, special offers at cultural institutions, and exclusive access to one-of-a-kind food and drink experiences at the city’s best restaurants. And of course, a subscription to our award-winning magazine.

Basically, everything you love about the city… just more of it.

Sign up for more information now and you’ll be one of the first to hear when memberships go on sale!

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Where to Live Now: A data-driven look at Ottawa neighbourhoods

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What does community have to do with buying a house? Do people really want friendly neighbours, or do they just want the most square footage for their buck?

In The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and Smarter, Montreal psychologist Susan Pinker cited a 2010 study conducted at Brigham Young University in Idaho that analyzed relationship data for more than 300,000 people over nearly eight years. She discovered that people who were integrated into their communities had half the risk of dying during that time as those who led more solitary lives. In Pinker’s analysis, integration meant simple interactions such as exchanging baked goods, babysitting, borrowing tools, and spur-of-the-moment visits — exactly the kinds of exchanges we saw grow when COVID-19 forced us all to stay home.

For this year’s real estate feature in the Spring/Summer 2020 print edition, we crunched the numbers to find the neighbourhoods where we think you’re most likely to find such opportunities for engagement. Using data available through the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study (ONS), we chose six indicators that we believed would attract those looking to connect with the people around them. Omitting rural areas, we awarded points to each neighbourhood according to where it landed in the ranking. (In the event of a tie, we used a secondary indicator of the same theme to refine the ranking.) You’ll find the ten neighbourhoods that performed the best according to those six indicators listed below, along with resident profiles and notable destinations in each ’hood — though many have been forced to adapt to COVID-19, most are offering delivery and/or take-out, and we are hopeful they will resume normal operations once it is safe to do so.

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