TTC apologizes to Wheel-Trans customers after ransomware attack

By Michael Ranger

The TTC held an emergency meeting on Friday to address last week’s ransomware attack.

The emergency board meeting opened with an apology to Wheel-Trans customers from TTC CEO Rick Leary.

“Let me first apologize to TTC Wheel-Trans customers for the frustration and inconvenience experienced as well as their understanding during this outage,” said Leary during the meeting.

“Delivering the best service to our customers is something that I’m deeply committed to and this week our customers did not receive that.”

Wheel-Trans customers were left without a booking system for four days, a result of the attack that knocked out booking systems and next vehicle information, leaving many commuters scrambling for alternate plans.

The transit agency says they experienced a loss of their Vision system — the system used to communicate with vehicle operators. The loss forced them to use a backup radio system.

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“Obviously there are still many unknowns about this attack,” said Leary. “We will share more information with the board and the public when it is appropriate.”.

Leary says the TTC is not alone in being targeted by hackers, referencing the recent data-breach affecting Newfoundland and Labrador’s healthcare system.

“We’ve come to find out that this year alone there were almost 700 such incidents reported in Canada,” he said.

The majority of Friday’s virtual meeting was held in a private session due to what Leary calls sensitive information.

TTC officials say they were made aware of “unusual network activity” on Thursday night and by midday Friday, the hackers “broadened their strike on network servers.”

The agency said the personal information of riders and employees remained safe.

Ransomware is a form of malicious software that attacks where a company’s data is encrypted, locking the user out.

The TTC provides public transit service for up to 1.7 million people per weekday in Toronto and surrounding municipalities.

With files from CityNews reporter Michelle Mackey

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