Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization hit by ransomware attack

Published on
May 27, 2020

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), an intergovernmental organization that manages fish stocks in international waters in the northwest Atlantic Ocean, has been hit by a ransomware attack, according to the CBC News.

The organization, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, counts a dozen countries as members, including Japan, Norway, Canada, the European Union, and Russia. It disclosed the attack, which has locked the organization out of its data systems and knocked its website offline, in a 24 May note to stakeholders.

"The NAFO servers have been compromised by ransomware and are currently unavailable,” wrote Lisa LeFort, senior executive assistant to the executive secretary of NAFO. “The NAFO Secretariat is working to resolve the issue. We will provide further details shortly.”

The timing of the attack is unfortunate, as the organization was preparing to set total allowable catch limits before its annual meeting in early June. The meeting was set to take place virtually over a two-week period, and is still set to continue as planned, according to LeFort’s note. However, the SC SharePoint system that NAFO uses to easily share and edit documents will likely not be available for members during the meeting, she said.

"As a result of the recent security attack on the NAFO servers, SC SharePoint is still down with no certainty of it being restored before the end of this week," LeFort wrote in the note. "We are working on an alternative SharePoint to be hosted on an off-site server which we hope will be up and running in time for the start of our meeting. I hope I will have some positive news for you today, however, for the time being, we will need to use email to distribute relevant documents."

NAFO Scientific Information Administrator Dayna Bell MacCallum had no additional comment when contacted by CBC.

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