BC 2SLGBTQ+ group says cyberattack was targeted

Jul 30 2022, 12:03 am

A non-profit that supports 2SLGBTQ+ folks in Vancouver says it was targeted in a cyberattack that has impacted its site for a week.

What’s most concerning to QMUNITY is the site is a critical point of contact for queer folks looking for education, counselling services, peer support, and lists of other valuable resources.

However, when folks visited the website last Friday were deferred to illicit third-party pages exposing them to risks and potential harm, Tracy London with the non-profit said. 

She said QMUNITY believes the cyber attack was targeted because, “harmful software encoding was embedded into the back end structure of every page, and began deferring users to illicit third party pages and prompted users to download apps.”

“Of course, that kind of attack can only be done with intention,” she said. 

London said she is especially mindful that because it is Pride season, and the attack coincided with the City of Vancouver’s announcement for a new QMUNITY home, was cause for concern.

“Ultimately, what we’re most concerned about is the impact that this has on the queer, trans, and Two-Spirit individuals who rely on us for peer support counselling. And the other services that we provide in support of mental health and wellness so greatly.”

The site was able to be brought partially back online.

“We are working with our service provider right now to restore all of the capabilities that used to be on our website. Of course, what drives us most of all, it’s the security of our community’s personal information and the risks that might be exposed. And… to ensure that queer trans and Two Spirit individuals have access to our programs,” she explained. “It was disconcerting that we had to feel inquiries on whether or not our programs and services were available. While we needed to put our site down as we were coming through to remove the malware.”

Last month, organizers of a family-friendly drag show at a Victoria café had to cancel its event the owner said staff received an overwhelming number of homophobic and transphobic phone calls.

In Toronto, organizers of Pride celebrations said event-goers had to be checked for weapons with security wands before entering some spaces because of an increase in attacks 2SLGBTQ+ people and groups during Pride Month.

Incidents across Canada are particularly where queer space, events, and organizations experience explicit threats and attacks is disconcerting for the community, London said.

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