Ransomware attacks have become a common occurrence in recent years, and they have targeted various organizations and institutions. Among the targets of these attacks are cities and municipalities, which have fallen prey to the malicious intentions of cybercriminals.
The first recorded ransomware attack against a city occurred in 2018, when the city of Atlanta fell victim to an attack that crippled many of its systems. The attackers demanded a ransom of $51,000 in Bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key, but the city refused to pay, instead opting to restore their systems from backups. The incident cost the city an estimated $17 million in recovery costs.
The Growing Threat of Ransomware Attacks
Since then, other cities have also experienced similar attacks. In March 2019, the city of Jackson, Georgia, was hit by a ransomware attack that forced the city to shut down many of its systems, including email and online bill payment. The attackers demanded a ransom of $400,000 in exchange for the decryption key. The city refused to pay and was able to recover their systems after a few weeks.
In June 2019, the city of Riviera Beach, Florida, was hit by a ransomware attack that encrypted their systems and demanded a ransom of $600,000 in Bitcoin. The city council voted to pay the ransom in the hopes of quickly restoring their systems, but the recovery process still took several weeks and cost the city an estimated $1 million.
In August 2019, the city of Baltimore, Maryland, experienced a ransomware attack that impacted many of its systems, including email and online payments. The attackers demanded a ransom of $76,000 in Bitcoin, which the city refused to pay. The recovery process took several months and cost the city an estimated $18 million.
In December 2019, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, suffered a ransomware attack that forced the city to declare a state of emergency. The attackers demanded a ransom of $3.6 million in Bitcoin, which the city also refused to pay. The recovery process took several weeks and cost the city an estimated $7 million.
Recently, two cities in California, Oakland and Modesto, were hit by ransomware attacks, which knocked offline various government services, forcing police in one city to resort to “old school policing” using handheld radios, pens, and paper during patrols. The Modesto police department, in particular, was hacked, which disabled patrol vehicle laptops, causing officers to write down the details of the calls they received from dispatch.
These attacks demonstrate how vulnerable businesses and cities can be to cyber threats, especially ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that hackers use to infect and hobble a computer or computer network until a ransom is paid or other demands are met.
Cybersecurity: How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
These attacks serve as a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity measures and the potential impact of a successful ransomware attack. Cities and municipalities should take steps to protect their systems and data, including regular backups, employee training, and the implementation of strong security protocols. In the event of an attack, it is important to have a response plan in place to minimize the damage and recovery costs. It is also important to know what resources are available to you.
At Diamond IT, we have IT and cybersecurity services specific to critical infrastructure including cities and municipalities. We have partnered with Central California Intelligence Agency (CCIC), a fusion center that is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, to bring awareness around the need to sustain a culture of cybersecurity and the resources that are available to help critical infrastructure entities do so. If you would like to learn more about CCIC, watch the video below.
Contact Diamond IT today to learn how we can help your city or organization sustain a culture of cybersecurity by filling out the form below.