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Antwerp’s city services down after hackers attack digital partner

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Antwerp's digital partner hacked, ransomware hits city services

The city of Antwerp, Belgium, is working to restore its digital services that were disrupted last night by a cyberattack on its digital provider.

The disruption has affected services used by citizens, schools, daycare centers, and the police, which have been working intermittently today.

Email and phone systems disrupted

An investigation is ongoing, but the little information available points to a ransomware attack from a threat actor that has yet to be disclosed.

According to Het Laatste Nieuws (HLN), the hackers were able to disrupt Antwerp’s services after breaching the servers of Digipolis, the city’s digital partner that provides administrative software.

The publication also notes that almost all Windows applications have been impacted.

Phone service for some departments was also unavailable. Alexandra d’Archambeau, a councilor member for the district of Wilrijk, said earlier today that the city’s email service was down.

Wilrijk reports Antwerp email system down
Email and platform for decision making in Antwerp are unavailable

De Standaard reports that it received confirmation that ransomware was the cause of the disruption from an actor that has yet to be determined.

The problems also extend to the city’s reservation system, which has been shut down, leaving people unable to receive their identity cards. Today, only travel cards could be collected.

Residential centers impacted

Among other the services affected by the attack are those from the Antwerp Healthcare Company (Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen), which provides residential care services to seniors in the province.

Johan De Muynck, the general manager of Zorgbedrijf said that the attack made unusable the software that kept track of who should receive medication.

This forced the staff in 18 residential care centers to switch to pen and paper and rely on traditional paper prescriptions for the seniors needing them.

“Doctors now have to sign prescriptions that we then deliver to the pharmacy. Lots of paperwork but everyone gets their medication today. My estimate is that everything can go automatically again tomorrow morning,” De Muynck said.

In this case, information about the residents has botresidents’ information remains safe as the database have not been affected by the attack, De Muynck added.

It is unclear when Antwerp’s IT systems will become fully functional by Antwerp’s mayor said that the impact could last until the end of December.

Although the police and the fire department have also been impacted, emergency services continue to be available.

A little over a week ago, the Ragnar Locker ransomware gang leaked data stolen from the local police unit in Zwijndrecht, a municipality in the province of Antwerp.

The published information was described by Belgium media as one of the largest stolen from public service in the country. The cache reportedly included car plates, crime report files, investigation reports, and fines from the past 16 years.

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