Wednesday, 12 July 2017

On 01:12 by admin in    No comments
Welland MPP Cindy Forster was the victim of a Monday cyberattack that was followed up with an ominous sounding voice mail left at her office the next day.
Forster’s Twitter page, which was hacked late Monday evening and filled with offensive posts, had yet to be fully restored late Tuesday afternoon. Her constituency office also received a voice mail from someone claiming responsibility for the hack.
The office is working with Twitter Canada and Niagara Regional Police to find those people responsible.
“I think these hackers are just bullies. And I won’t be bullied,” said Forster, who was in North Bay Tuesday for hearings on Ontario’s minimum wage. “Hopefully, we will be able to find out who did this, so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
The hack appears to have happened while Forster was on a plane headed for North Bay Monday night.
According to Mike Haines, constituency assistant at Forster’s Welland office, the MPP’s Twitter page was hacked at about 9:30 p.m. Monday. With Forster en route to North Bay, the hack initially went unnoticed.
“My phone was on airplane mode, so I didn’t see it. It wasn’t until I sat down when we got something to eat (in North Bay) that I learned about it,” Forster said.
Forster’s name was changed to “Cryo Squad” on her Twitter page, and the weblinks tab was changed to links to two largely inactive Twitter pages.
Her cover page was swapped with an older photo of U.S. President Donald Trump’s sons, and at least a half-dozen dozen messages were tweeted by the hackers.
Some of the messages were benign letter-salads. The hackers also retweeted a post by a pop-culture tweeter. Another was tweeted at Trump and said: “I salute you, dad.”
Others, however, were overtly racist and homophobic.
The tweets mocked Ontario Premier Kathlyn Wynne’s sexuality and said she should die by suicide, used a derogatory term to describe former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and use the N-word to describe someone named Alex.
“Im (sic) getting really fed up with this erection,” said one tweet, written to appear as though it came from Forster.
Haines said while he was also initially unaware of the hack Monday night, people following Forster’s account did notice and began sending messages to the constituency officer by email and on Facebook.
“I got a call (Tuesday) morning from (Pelham Mayor) Dave Augustyn, who told me it looked like the account was hacked,” Haines said.
Haines said he contacted Twitter Canada and the NRP as soon as he realized what had happened.
The information services branch at Queen’s Park immediately locked down Forster’s official government email and other related services as a precaution, Haines said.
By 5 p.m. Tuesday, most of the hacker’s tweets had been removed from Forster’s page.
The incident did not end with the hack, however.
Shortly before 10 a.m. the constituency office received a voice mail message from an unknown number, Haines said. The person who left the message disguised his or her voice, and claimed responsibility for the hack.
“This is the Cryo Squad. We have access to your Twitter. Please email us at to get your account back,” the message said.
Haines said the voice mail was also forwarded to police.
“It almost sounds like extortion, except they didn’t leave a demand for money,” said Forster. “Now I feel like I know what people who are hacked and stalked online feel like. At least a little bit.”
Forster said it is not the first time someone had tried to intimidate her.
During her tenure as Welland’s mayor a man left a photo of a woman who was badly slashed with a knife at the city hall front desk. The photo was addressed to Forster. Harassing emails followed the photo and Forster said police were able to track down the person responsible.
The incident is the second significant cyberattack in Niagara recently. Two week ago, Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold was hit by a ransomware virus which shut down its computers.


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