US local government under attack from cyber-criminals

Cyber criminals have now turned their attention to US local government.

California’s  Hayward City Council approved a local emergency on 13 July just days after the city was hit by a ransomware attack.

“What it does is it allows our executive functions to work more efficiently to be able to direct staffing to acquire expertise, equipment faster than we normally can,” said city spokesperson, Chuck Finnie.

The cyber-attack attempted to disrupt and hold hostage parts of the city’s networks and computer systems.

However, city officials say as far as they know no employees’ nor residents’ data has been compromised.  “We are still responding to 911 dispatch calls, we’re deploying police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, our water system is running, our sewer system is running,” Finnie said.

City officials say there’s no timeframe for when the declaration might end. 

Meanwhile, residents of Cornelius, North Carolina, are dealing with delayed or unavailable services after a ransomware attack last week.

The town has a population of about 32,000 people and is a prominent suburb of Charlotte located on Lake Norman. Government officials said on the evening of 11 July, they discovered a cybersecurity incident later determined to be a ransomware attack.

“The Technology Operations (TechOps) Department immediately severed on-site technology from the network in order to contain the threat and prevent its spread,” the town government said.

“TechOps is working with the North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association (NCLGISA) and Mecklenburg County Emergency Management to scan and clean all affected devices before the Town returns to normal operations.”

It added that “some services provided by the Town may be temporarily unavailable or delayed” as they work to restore systems.

The incidents come just months after Oakland, California, suffered a similar attack, with observers suggesting that such hits are becoming increasingly common.