Michigan water board pays $25K ransom to cyber criminals

    Data security concerns are on rising and despite many efforts being taken by government organizations to isolate themselves from malware attacks, it seems like some happenings couldn’t be averted.

    The Lansing Board of Water & Light (LBWL) is reported to have paid a ransom $25,000 to cyber criminals in last summer to unlock its internal communication systems from malware.

    Dick Peffley, the Manager of the Michigan City’s water & light board confirmed this news and said that the board had to bow down to cyber criminals due to an emergency.

    Dick added that they are immediately going for a technology upgrade to prevent such future attacks at $2.4 million cost. Thankfully, $500,000 of those costs will be covered by the insurance provider for the Lansing board.

    Going further into the details of the cyber attack, on April 25th, 2016 a ransomware hit the accounting and email systems after an employee accidentally clicked on a suspicious email which unfortunately had an infected attachment of Ransomware.

    A ransomware is a malware which takes over the files and folder in a database and keeps them locked until the victim pays a ransom to the malware inducer. In some cases, after paying the ransom, the cyber criminal can demand more or can just the cash and can show a blind eye.

    This made the water board shut down phone lines, including the service line attending customer requests. They soon started to explore ways to unlock the files and finally came to a decision of paying the said ransom to the cyber criminals.

    However, LBWL’s manager Dick Peffley assured that there was no evidence of personal info of customers leaking to the cyber criminals.

    The federal organization has also filed a $1.9 million insurance claim for losses resulting from the attack. The actual figure happens to be $2 million in covered losses and minus a $100,000 deductible. The claim will be paid in next few weeks.

    Now, the water board is showing a keen interest in investing in a cyber emergency response team, crisis management and for stabilizing & restoring its systems. All these developments will be used to block all future cyber attacks from the LBWL database network.

    Naveen Goud
    Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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