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Trinidad and Tobago facing outages after cyberattack

Trinidad and Tobago’s justice department is dealing with a cyberattack that has impacted the ministry’s operations.

The island nation of more than 1.4 million people announced on Friday that its Ministry of Digital Transformation discovered a cyberattack targeting the country’s Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs (AGLA) in recent days.

No specific date was given for when the attack started but AGLA published a message saying it has been dealing with outages since June 30 and internal services were disrupted. Any court documents served electronically after that date were not received.

“This unauthorized and illegal access has negatively impacted operations at the AGLA and certain associated Divisions,” the Ministry of Digital Transformation said in a statement on Friday.

“Having taken actions to minimize the threat, an investigation, in partnership with leading industry cybersecurity experts, is ongoing. In the meantime, some services that are usually provided are temporarily unavailable.”

The ministry provided alternative email addresses where people can send court documents and said in-person court services were still available in the capital of Port of Spain.

AGLA did not respond to requests for comment about whether services would be up and running this week.

Renuka Sagramsingh-Sooklal, an official within AGLA, told the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian that Director of IT Roger Sealy “has been working nonstop around the clock with his IT team and other stakeholders to rectify this issue.”

Lawyers for the government told other local news outlets that they were unable to access their email accounts and were unable to access critical documents for upcoming trials.

The Trinidad and Tobago Cyber Security Incident Response Team (TT-CSIRT) published an advisory on Friday urging all organizations to “take the necessary precautions to mitigate against rising ransomware attacks in Trinidad and Tobago.”

The agency said companies and victims should reach out to them for incident response assistance and provided several email addresses or links to ransomware guides. Any information provided to the agency is confidential and will not be disclosed publicly, they added.

Government representatives at other agencies did not respond to requests for comment about when the situation may be resolved, whether it involved ransomware or whether a ransom would be paid.

There have been a spate of cyberattacks on government agencies and infrastructure in island nations around the world.

In June, the Caribbean island of Martinique said it was dealing with a cyberattack that disrupted internet access and other infrastructure for weeks. Guadeloupe — an overseas department and region of France in the Caribbean consisting of six islands with a population of about 385,000 — also dealt with a cyberattack this year that crippled many of the local government’s systems.

Pacific islands have also faced attack, with the government of Vanuatu being knocked offline in early November 2022 following a ransomware attack.

The Medusa ransomware group launched a wide-ranging attack on Tonga’s state-owned telecommunications company in February and in March, the largest provider of mobile, television, internet and telephone services to the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands was hit with a cyber incident.

Trinidad itself faced its own cyberattack last year when its biggest supermarket chain was attacked by a now defunct ransomware group.

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.