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No ransom demand in B.C. cyberattack, minister says

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The "sophisticated" cyberattack that was recently detected on B.C. government networks has not come with a ransom demand – at least, not yet.

Premier David Eby announced Wednesday that the province is grappling with unspecified "cybersecurity incidents," with help from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security to bolster safeguards and protect sensitive personal information.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth had few additional details to share Thursday, but confirmed the cyberattack "has not been a ransomware incident."

Last week, CTV News reported that all government employees had been directed to immediately change their passwords. Farnworth would not reveal more on when officials learned about the intrusion on government networks, except that it was recent.

"I cannot be more specific than that at this particular point in time," Farnworth added. "When I can be, I will be."

The province delayed announcing the cyberattack to the public because doing so earlier could have put the information stored on B.C. networks at greater risk, Farnworth said.

"The first priority is to protect the system," he said. "The challenge with going out right away and telling people that is the moment that you do that – if you haven't secured everything, if you haven't understood what's taken place – you are then making the system more vulnerable to outside interference and people who are up to mischief."

The minister also reiterated Eby's previous statement that there is "no evidence" so far that sensitive personal information was accessed or stolen – though B.C.'s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been notified.

Asked about the prompt for provincial employees to change their passwords last week, a government spokesperson told CTV News there was no link to the high-profile cyberattack against London Drugs that forced the company to close all 79 stores for days.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Penny Daflos

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