Antwerp cyberattack costs city €1,2 million in parking fines

Good news for local residents, but not so good for local authorities: anyone found to have parked illegally in Antwerp in the last few weeks will not receive a fine in the mail, Het Laatste Nieuws writes.

On 6 December, a cyberattack against the city administration locked local authorities out of much of their digital devices. Appointments at the city's counters stopped working and much of the administration's internal services ceased working after an attempted ransomware attack by hacker collective “Play”.

This had an immediate impact upon the city's parking attendants, who were unable to verify whether citizens had paid their parking tickets. According to an update on Antwerp city's website, the attacks means that “notifications about parking, traffic, and shared mobility are not flowing through.”

Importantly, this means that vehicles having illegally parked since the attack have likely not been penalised for the offence. However, there is one important caveat. “For incorrect parking (in a place where you should never park), parking officials will give you a GAS fine.”

Those looking to make the most of the consequence-free parking should beware. City authorities expect that the issue will be fixed in the coming days.

“We are working hard to find a solution for the parking metres,” said Maarten Vanderhenst, chief of cabinet for alderman of mobility Koen Kennis. Until recently, the Antwerp administration had not admitted that its parking violation system had been offline.

“For example, the app that uses GPS tracking to determine which car is parked will work again in a few days. The data will be stored. Our parking attendants will then be able to check after one or two weeks, they will be able to check if a motorist has paid or not,” the official added.

The drop in revenue from parking fines is yet another cost for the city in what is likely to be an extremely costly cyberattack. Parking fines were recently raised from €39 to €44. In 2022, the City had predicted €9,7 million in parking fines, Vanderhenst said. When accounting for revenue from parking metres, this should amount to €24,7 million.

December and January are some of the busiest periods for collecting parking tickets. As such, the loss in revenue is estimated at €1,2 million for the month, or roughly 12% of the year's revenue in parking fines. There are hopes that, with greater enforcement in 2023, revenue from parking fines and metres should add up to €28,9 million, and €32 million by next year.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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