On September 4, 2019, Jon Mitchell, the mayor of New Bedford, revealed that hackers infiltrated the city’s network and demanded a ransom of $5.3 million in exchange for decryption keys. The incident occurred on the night of July 4, 2019, when data stored in 158 systems was encrypted.
The incident was identified on July 5, 2019, when city officials could not access the network. The IT security team immediately identified that the hackers had installed the ransomware variant, Ryuk. The city was unable to afford the ransom, and instead offered to pay a ransom of $400,000. The attackers denied the request and did not provide the decryption keys.
City officials are using backups to recover lost data and are restoring the systems back to their original states with help from the city's cybersecurity experts. City officials also confirmed that despite the attack, public services have not been majorly impacted.
"We live in a world now that is so interconnected that simply pulling up the proverbial drawbridge is unrealistic," Mayor Mitchell said in his press release. "We will rely on the advice of our experts to guide us, but we must remain constantly vigilant and willing to devote the resources necessary to protect our system from a much more debilitating attack than the one we just experienced. I am committed to making sure our City does just that."
Attacks on government agencies have increased drastically over the last few months. In August, around 22 government bodies in Texas fell victim to a data breach, and in June, a city in Florida was affected by a ransomware attack that led to a loss of $600,000 paid in ransom to regain access to the network.
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