Nick Christianson at the airport commissions’ monthly meeting last month. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Hackers attack Airport AWOS system

The South Cariboo Regional Airport was the victim of three separate cyberattacks last month.

The South Cariboo Regional Airport was the victim of three separate cyberattacks last month.

Airport manager Nick Christianson told the airport commission last month that the hack targeted the Automated Airport Weather Station, or AWOS, a system in charge of monitoring the area’s weather. Each time, the attackers would take the AWOS offline and hold it ransom for payment of Bitcoin, a type of cyber currency, Christianson said.

A new security system they have in place should stop the attacks, he said.

“We now have a spare card that we can change out the motherboard,” Christianson said. “Hopefully we’ve got that fixed now, we’ve gone through this several times.”

READ MORE: Commission considers next steps for 108 airport

Meanwhile, he also reported that while COVID-19 had brought business to a standstill at the airport, things have since picked up and this August was one of their best months ever. They sold roughly $12,000 in fuel as everyone seemed to be out flying again. This is partly because fuel is cheap, noting in Prince George it’s around $2.40 a litre while here it costs $1.21 a litre.

“This month it’s seven years since we put our self-serve fuel system in. We’ve sold $1.3-million in fuel sales in that time and it’s averaged $183,000 in fuel over the seven years,” Christianson said.

He warned, however, that in the near future the commission will have to consider replacing this infrastructure because while it is in good condition, it is getting old and has few spare parts. It will be an expensive project but Christianson said he feels it’s important people know how much revenue it generates for the airport.

Construction has also finished on a new wall that, once the area behind it is filled in when the runway is next resurfaced, will provide a screen for future medivac patients. This will ensure that people in the restaurant will no longer be able to see “Joe Blow getting on the Kerosene Queen,” Christianson said.

Christianson is retiring in December.

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