Play the wrong note? Toronto Symphony Orchestra victim of cyberattack

Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Image ©Digital-Journal

On July 10, 2022, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) and the Canadian Opera Company were notified by their email provider – WordFly – that a network outage had occurred which rendered the technology inaccessible. Performing arts company Canadian Stage was also affected.

Often the first signs of a ransomware attack are an abnormal spike in disk activity. This happens when the malware scans each folder for data to encrypt. A secondary sign is that the impacted system becomes less responsive.

TSO has reached out to its customers in what is described in email correspondence as “the spirit of complete transparency and abundance of caution.”

It later emerged that WordFly had been the subject of a ransomware attack, with the time period impacted being July 10.e at the 14th. The cyberattack involved exporting customer information from the WordFly environment. While financial information was out of scope, some personally indefinable information was impacted.

This involved the customer’s name, email address, customer ID, and other information about the customer’s TSO account. For customers who responded to surveys, additional information that was assigned includes demographic information (such as age range, gender, ethnicity).

To date, there is no indication that the data was used for any purpose by this attacker. The resolution of the incident resulted in the deletion of the attacker’s possession data. This leads to a low risk assessment.

The arts organizations affected are major players in the Canadian cultural scene. The Canadian Opera Company is the largest opera company in Canada and one of the largest opera producers in North America, performing at its own opera house, the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts, and as part of tours. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs at Roy Thomson Hall and it was established in 1906.

Canadian Stage is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit contemporary theater companies, founded in 1987. Canadian Stage has produced over 300 shows, with an emphasis on performances of Canadian plays.

With WordFly not yet back as an active service, the TSO is working with Mailchimp to enable continued communications with its customers.

For those affected, and anyone else affected by a similar incident, it’s important to be alert to phishing risks, such as suspicious emails, text messages, or phone calls. Companies can aim to reduce the impact by using good monitoring apps, practicing frequent file backups, running anti-malware software, and ensuring effective user training is in place.

Comments are closed.