The report posted today by the county is a reminder that many are intent on attacking our government. On Sept. 10th the county government was subject to a phishing attack. Between Sept. 10th and Nov. 21st the attacker secured additional information and eventually launched a full-scale ransomware attack on the county government by Nov 21st. The county executive recommended paying the ransom because the county is liable only for the $25,000 insurance deductible. The report does not state the full amount paid, but according to the report the attacker disclosed how they got access to the system, which should be useful information to have in preventing future attacks. During this time, government work was impeded as the report cites work-arounds had to be found.
This is a reminder there are myriad attackers out there with a variety of means, tools and motives to attack our government. With so many of these ransoms being paid by businesses and governments, it is sure to remain a lucrative business for the state and non-state actors implementing these attacks. Secure your computers!
- Keep back-ups, including off-line backups.
- Keep your software up to date.
- Use strong passwords and don’t reuse passwords.
- Be careful using computers out of support.
- Don’t click on links or files in emails or texts that you aren’t 100% sure of.
This is also a reminder that infrastructure funding is important. Our schools and local governments, often running on shoestring budgets, generally underfund digital systems. When I first moved here, Nether Providence Township’s website was listed as compromised on Google. Our schools especially are responsible for a wealth of sensitive data. So please support adequate funding at all levels of government to keep it safe.
One last note for WSSD. Stop sending every message as links and attachments. Its bad security practice and makes phishing easier.
Update – WHYY has a story about this here.