Saint John — On Friday, a cyber attack affecting Saint John’s operations systems came only days after the city moved those processes online.
“It’s sad, really,” said Mayor Don Darling, patting the recently installed dial-up modem. “We finally get ourselves set up on the ‘information super highway,’ then something like this happens. Just goes to show how dangerous these newfangled devices can be.”
Saint John has a history of being ‘late adopters’ to new technologies, not adapting to electric traffic control systems until the early 2000s, the automobile until 1955, or fire until 1937. Darling, who considers himself to be a progressive, said he had originally hoped to change this.
“Getting our city on the grid was one of my most important campaign promises,” he recalled. “It was time for a change. City officials have been begging to move from carrier pigeons to email for years now, but faced opposition from Conservatives worried that unemployed pigeons would be an unnecessary burden on our welfare system.”
After several years of deliberation, the move to get the city online was expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for remote work.
“Pandemics have always been a catalyst for change,” said Saint John historian Francis Armstrong. “It was actually the 1918 Spanish Flu that got the city off of leech treatments, and forced them to adopt more modern techniques, like trepanation.”
Saint John used a significant portion of its federal relief money to move many of their systems online earlier this fall, finally brining it online last Tuesday. Then, on Friday, a group of cyber-terrorists hacked the system with ransomware.
“I mean, we’re using Windows 95…the box says that it’s the most secure operating system, so I don’t know what could have happened,” said Darling, looking over the packaging with a confused expression.
He declined to disclose how much the cybercriminals were requesting, but Darling assured The Manatee that it is in the “high double-digits,” and that we “just don’t have that kind of money lying around.”
Although it remains uncertain what the city will do, many have called for Darling to face some personal repercussions for the decision to move the city online.
“Listen, I accept the will of the people,” he said, with a resigned shrug. “I’ll just have to go out there and take my stoning like a man.”