Essex report recommends new insurance to protect against cyber attacks

Keyboard. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

Town councillors in Essex will be asked to approve spending for insurance if cybercriminals ever target the town.

In recent years, several municipalities have been targeted by hackers, including Wasaga Beach, which was forced to pay $34,950 in ransom after cyber criminals gained access to their network. Midland and Stratford have also been targeted.

The attacks are serious enough that the Ontario Provincial Police issued an alert to all municipalities in the province.

Tuesday night, councillors will be asked to sign off on $15,126 annually for insurance to protect the municipality. Cyber insurance is designed to offset any costs with recovering access to the town’s computer network that may arise from a cyberattack, including coverage for physical damage to computers and the network hardware.

A report to town council said about 10,000 emails are sent to the Town of Essex each week. More than half of the communications are spam, malware, or viruses.

The town’s IT department updates workstations with antivirus software, system updates, and patches. Staff are also regularly reminded how to differentiate between legitimate emails and malware.

This year’s insurance premium would be paid out by reallocating funds from the town’s network security audit which has a balance of $27,000. After that, it would come from the operating budget.