Ransomware makes two cities declare emergency

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In a concerning turn of events, the impact of ransomware attacks has reached such an extent that two cities have been compelled to declare local emergencies due to the crippling effect on their government’s IT infrastructure.

Langlade County in Wisconsin recently announced an official acknowledgment of its technology services facing catastrophic software failures caused by a LockBit ransomware attack that commenced a couple of weeks ago. While specific details regarding the file encrypting malware attack were not disclosed by county officials, they did attribute the incident to the LockBit Ransomware group. As a result, emergency phone lines, including the crucial 911 service, remained non-operational, while email and other communication channels were disrupted.

Despite these challenges, the county, home to a population of approximately 20,000 people, has made it clear that it will not yield to the hackers’ demands. Thanks to a robust backup plan, they remain confident in their ability to recover. Additionally, discussions are underway with third-party forensic experts to determine the best course of action in dealing with the double extortion tactics employed by these cybercriminals.

In a separate incident, the Hayward City Council in California also announced an official state of emergency due to their municipal council systems and networks falling victim to a notorious ransomware gang. Kelly McAdoo, the City Manager of Hayward, confirmed the incident and assured the public that public safety services would be restored by the end of the week, with the city’s 911 dispatch center already back to full operational capacity.

It is worth noting that LockBit, which has claimed responsibility for over 1,670 ransomware attacks and earned approximately $92 million by posting stolen data from nearly half of their victims, is suspected to be behind these recent attacks. The criminals have targeted both large cities like Oakland and smaller towns across Florida, Colorado, and Ohio, infiltrating the IT infrastructure of 47 local governments in the United States.

These incidents serve as alarming reminders of the escalating threat posed by ransomware attacks, necessitating increased vigilance and robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard critical systems and protect the public’s interests.

 

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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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