A cemetary with church
Image: Joel de Vriend via Unsplash/Photomosh

Funerals reportedly canceled due to ransomware attack on Austrian town

The municipality of Korneuburg in Austria said it was hit by a ransomware attack, leading to funerals reportedly being canceled and the town hall informing residents its staff can only be reached via telephone.

The small town on the banks of the Danube a few kilometers north of Vienna has a population of under 13,000 people. In a statement on the municipality’s website, the town hall said its technical department was “working hard to resolve the problem” and guarantee the security of the authority’s data.

According to media reports, the ransomware attack has affected all of the data held by the administration, including the backup system. Officials have confirmed receiving an extortion demand.

Local newspaper Mein Bezirk quoted the council’s deputy mayor Helene Fuchs-Moser saying: “Everything is dead, we can’t even print out registration forms or death certificates or transfer bills.”

Noen, another local paper, reported that funerals have been canceled because of the inability to issue death certificates. Most countries require funeral directors to receive a certificate before burying or cremating the deceased.

The town hall's IT manager, Christopher Kremlicka, discovered the attack last week on the night of February 2.

“I suddenly received an email saying that something was happening in our data area that shouldn't be happening. Of course, I checked it immediately and noticed that everything was encrypted,” said Kremlicka.

Officials said they had reported the incident and extortion attempt to the police.

Fuchs-Moser, who is leading on the issue while the mayor is on vacation according to Noen, said the administration would not be making an extortion payment.

Fuchs-Moser said that the IT team had signed-off on the security of the town hall’s systems as recently as December. “We were certified that everything was safe. Unfortunately the criminals are always one step further.”

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Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin

is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.