Cyberattacks can lead to sensitive data exposure, data loss and even downtime as IT departments rush to find the best path to recovery. For government institutions, the damage can be severe, resulting lost trust from the citizens and even legal actions. Only a well planned out security strategy and a solid backup and recovery plan saves the day.
Often the attack is possible not due to hacker’s wit and sophisticated techniques. Unfortunately, in many cases the problem lies with poor planning and prevention capabilities of institutions. A report by SecurityScorecard published this year showed that U.S. federal, state and local government agencies have the worst cybersecurity protocols compared to 17 major private industries.
Institutions will not always disclose incidents due to fears of reprisal, reputation damage or even legal actions. But there are times when public institutions admit they failed on cybersecurity, and make these incidents public. IT consultants are often faced with the decision to pay up or restore from a backup – if they have one.
San Francisco Muni Gives Up Free Rides
San Francisco passengers got subway rides for free in November last year, after ransomware froze the system. Ticket machines were shut down and users got rides on the light-rail system for free. Apparently, a variant of the HDDCryptor Malware affected the systems. The attackers demanded almost $73,000 in ransom, shows The Register. The organization’s IT team worked for a full day to recover the data, and refused to pay the ransom.
Saudi Arabia Hit by Data-wiping Malware
The Shamon strain of malware hit several government institutions in Saudi Arabia last year, causing serious disruption. The Shamon strain is able to delete data off entire systems, shows security firm Symantec. It looks like the attackers configured the malware with passwords stolen from the targeted organizations, added the company.
Sarasota Florida Ransomware Attack
In February last year, computer systems from the offices of Sarasota city in Florida shut down for an entire day following a ransomware attack. The ransomware corrupted the city’s file sharing systems, and IT worked ten hours trying to recover from the incident. The city did not pay the ransom requested, and recovered from the incident, said official sources.
City of Springfield Data, Held for Ransom
In Tennessee, in September last year, the City of Springfield employees discovered that the institution data is encrypted. Hackers demanded $1,000 to restore access to city systems. It took IT four days to recover data from backup tapes, to avoid paying the ransom, according to local press.
Hackers Blackmail U.S. Police Departments
In Lincoln County, Maine, the sherrif department’s computer systems decided to pay a ransom in 2015 to get back access to its data. The systems were offline for 48 hours before the organization decided to pay the ransom. An NBC report shows how Police Departments are particularly vunerable to ransomware attacks, as they are using outdated systems. One chief acknowledged that when the department’s computers were attacked, they were running on DOS, an operating system that dates back to the early ’80s.
City of London, a Prime Target for Attacks
Things are not much better in the UK. A report from Malwarebytes showed that the City of London faced a deluge of ransomware attacks in the last year. The company registered 10,500 attacks in one year, which is more than what some countries encounter. Another Trend Micro report showed that 44% of UK business owners have had to deal with ransomware in the last two years.
Save Your Bitcoin, Backup Safely!
Government institutions, just like private companies, are vulnerable to ransom attacks. Businesses big or small are liable of getting their systems encrypted at any time. To prevent paying the ransom, IT leaders need to be aware of the threat and institute reliable backup solutions, that allow quick recovery in case of disaster.
So save your Bitcoin and make sure you’re not the next victim. Get proper backup software to protect your systems!