The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa was recently the target of a ransomware attack, and more than three weeks later, it is still working on recovering full functionality, with some staff working remotely.
“We have begun a gradual return to the office,” director of communications Douglas Chow told Artnet News in an email. “Progress and connectivity by department continues, most recently online systems for ticketing, membership, and the boutique are now operational.”
A forensic investigation is ongoing, with the help of third-party cyber security experts along with the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.
The museum detected the attack after an interruption to its I.T. systems on April 23, reported the Ottawa Citizen. The museum lost some “operational information,” the museum told the paper on May 9, while stressing that payment systems remained safe and that no private information, such as members’ credit card information, had been compromised.
“We have taken this incident very seriously,” interim director and CEO Angela Cassie said in an email to the Citizen. “Our core focus was on protecting personal or sensitive information, and the safe operation of the gallery.”
The museum, which remained open throughout, emailed membership applicants about the attack on May 9, assuring them that the gallery does not store full credit or debit card information in its systems, reported the Citizen.
The National Gallery was established in 1880 and counts more than 75,000 works of art among its holdings.
The institution has been the subject of heated debate, with several former staff members writing in a letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage that the institution is at risk of fading into “cultural irrelevance” after a series of layoffs in recent years, including chief curator Kitty Scott and senior curator of Indigenous art Greg Hill. On Instagram, Hill claimed that the gallery’s Department of Indigenous Ways and Decolonization was being run in “colonial and anti-Indigenous ways.”
The Globe and Mail reported that the manager handling the layoffs was being paid as much as $300,000 a year in fees, which would be higher than the salary of the last chief executive, Sasha Suda, now director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
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