Cyberattack halts funerals in Austrian town

A ransomware attack has thrown a town in Lower Austria into disarray, disrupting services including funerals, according to local media reports.

Korneuburg, a town of 13,000 just miles away from the capital, Vienna, has lost access to its own data after a ransomware attack that paralyzed the city administration, the local newspaper NÖN reported.

The “hectic” situation has forced the city administration to cancel funerals as it is unable to issue death certificates due to operational challenges resulting from the cyberattack, the report said.

The Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, and the Federal Chancellery are all involved in addressing the crisis. Extortion claims have been made on the darknet, but the exact demands of the cybercriminals remain unclear.

"We know very little at the base. All I can say is that we have now received a ransom note," the town’s deputy mayor, Helene Fuchs-Moser, told Mein Bezirk, another local outlet.

She said the incident was reported to the police, and the investigation is ongoing. The town said it opposed paying a ransom, and all city employees were advised against using their computers. The city administration can now only be reached by telephone.

The attack was discovered on February 2nd by Christopher Kremlicka, the head of the town’s IT department, according to Mein Bezirk.

“I suddenly received an email alerting me that something was happening in our data area that shouldn't be happening. I immediately checked and realized that everything was encrypted,” Kremlicka said.

The ransomware attack affected all the city's data, including its backup system, even though the town’s IT infrastructure was deemed secure during the most recent checkup in December.

“Unfortunately, criminals are always one step ahead,” Fuchs-Moser said.