Quebec officials said that it was shutting down almost 4,000 government websites as a preventative measure following threats of a cyberattack.

Iran PressAmerica: Minister of Digital Transformation Éric Caire held a press conference today in Quebec City, announcing the decision to shut all the province’s official websites until further notice.

The closure comes on the heels of a recently discovered software vulnerability in a Java-based library of an Apache product, which the Department of National Defence says could affect thousands of organizations worldwide.

Caire says the Common Vulnerability Scoring System, used widely around the world, has assessed the current threat at a 10 out of 10.

He says Quebec was made aware of the issue on Friday and has been working ever since to identify which websites are at risk, one by one, before putting them back online.

He says there has been no indication that systems have been compromised.

Federal Defence Minister Anita Anand issued a statement today saying the government is aware of the security risk and calling on Canadian organizations to “pay attention to this critical internet vulnerability. ”

According to a new survey, nearly half of Canadians lack confidence in the cybersecurity of Elections Canada and federal government services such as the Canada Revenue Agency.

More than 100 ransomware attacks targeted notable Canadian sites in 2021, including hospitals and Rideau Hall, and in the wake of this, Canadians are feeling a lack of confidence in institutions’ ability to protect from cyber threats, according to a report released by Angus Reid Institute on Thursday.

The report detailed the results of a survey that found that more than half of Canadians said they were “not confident” that their municipal government had good cybersecurity, and half were not confident that their local health authority had good cybersecurity.

The survey, which was conducted online in early November, included a randomized sample of 1,611 Canadians who are part of the Angus Reid Forum, where Canadians can take part in surveys.

Around 48 percent of respondents said they weren’t confident in the cybersecurity of their local utility providers, while 45 percent said they lacked confidence in the cybersecurity of Elections Canada and services such as the CRA, income assistance, and student loans.

Several high-profile ransomware attacks this year have opened Canadians’ eyes to the threat, including a cyberattack in the summer that targeted the Government of Canada and led to thousands of Canadians’ online CRA accounts being exposed.

This past October, a suspected cyberattack crippled Newfoundland and Labrador’s health network, canceling thousands of appointments and forcing some regions to return to a paper system that hadn’t been used for decades.

Around 75 percent of Canadians are aware of the threat of cyberattacks, according to the survey, with Canadians in Atlantic Canada reporting the highest awareness.

According to the survey, some Canadians also have personal experience — three in 10 said that they had been affected by a cyberattack in some way.

Men over the age of 55 were the most likely to have been hit with a cyberattack, with 75 percent reporting that they had been personally impacted.

Just under a third of Canadians said that they lack confidence in the cybersecurity of their bank or financial institution, making it the institution that Canadians were most confident in of those mentioned on the survey.

Canadians were least confident in the security of social media sites, with 77 percent reporting that didn’t think these platforms had up-to-date cybersecurity.

Some responses ranged by province. Albertans reported the lowest percentage of those who were confident in the security of Elections Canada, at 35 percent, while more than half of the respondents from British Columbia reported being confident in Elections Canada’s security.

Ransomware attacks are a type of cyberattack where a hacker freezes a computer service until a ransom is paid, and according to the Communication Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, these types of attacks increased 151 percent in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020.

There were 235 attacks in total, with more than half targeting critical infrastructures, such as electrical grids or hospitals.