[BreachExchange] East Greenwich town computers fall victim to ‘ransomware’ attack

Destry Winant destry at riskbasedsecurity.com
Mon Dec 9 10:10:09 EST 2019


EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — A cyber attack has knocked out some
parts of the town computer network in East Greenwich, according to
Town Manager Andrew Nota.

It happened at the end of the workday Thursday.

Nota told Eyewitness News the hackers appeared to be employing what’s
known as “ransomware,” making a demand of the town and essentially
holding their data hostage.

Nota said the town’s IT department immediately severed all outside
network contact in order to prevent further exposure to the hackers.
He said they did not read the full demand and did not know precisely
what the hackers were seeking.

East Greenwich is not alone; municipal government networks across the
region and the country have recently fallen prey to hackers and
ransomware attacks. In July, hackers demanded more than $5 million
from the City of New Bedford.

Nota said his town is still assessing the loss of data and other
potential impacts, but believes the town’s quick actions limited the
extent of the damage.

“If a municipality or business has in place the necessary up-to-date
protections, you can establish an environment where you can greatly
limit your loss and not have to consider engaging in a ransom-based
negotiation,” Nota said in an email. “This environment requires an
annual commitment to maintain pace with the technology and those
seeking to circumvent it.  In my opinion the potential cost from a
serious breach far outweighs any preventative investment.”

The town has been in touch with a technical support team and is
coordinating with its insurer since the incident was discovered.
They’ve also alerted the cyber units of the Rhode Island State Police
and the Rhode Island National Guard.

Nota expects most of the town systems to be running normally by
Monday, with more coming online over the next few days.

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