ransomware

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Louisiana: Cyber Attack Has Louisiana State Lawmakers Asking Questions | Chuck Smith/Red River Radio

The ransom-ware  cyberattack that occurred two weeks ago on Louisiana’s state government computer servers disrupted several state agency operations and prompted Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency. The state activated its cybersecurity response team following the ransomware attack on government servers, and according to a press release the state did not lose any data nor pay any ransom, AND no personal data was compromised as state cyber-experts explained the attack was aimed at disrupting state server operations only. The shut-down was to prevent any unauthorized access and allow tech teams to take necessary cyber-security measures. While inconvenient the breach was nowhere near the worst-case scenario, of widespread  data  theft  or  crippled government services  for weeks or months. During  a recent meeting of the Joint House and Senate Budget Committee, Republican  Sen. Sharon  Hewitt  from  Slidell  praised  the quick response from Louisiana’s technology services office to the Nov. 18th  ransom-ware, but asked about  potential  vulnerabilities for future attacks.

Full Article: Cyber Attack Has Louisiana State Lawmakers Asking Questions | Red River Radio.

Louisiana: No data lost, no ransom paid in Louisiana cyber attack; Ardoin says no impact on state elections | Mark Ballard/The Advocate

Monday’s ransomware attack, which crippled about 10% of the state’s computer network servers just hours after votes were tallied in statewide elections for governor, legislative seats and other positions prompted many to look for intrigue, a legislative panel heard Friday. “A lot of the conspiracy theorists are calling me,” said state Sen. Bodi White, R-Central. He questioned whether the attack, which kept many in state government from using their computers throughout much of the week, could cause problems for certification of election results or changed numbers in election returns. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said no. “Nothing impacted our system,” Ardoin said in an interview Friday. The website was down for a while. But, for the most part, the election office’s databases for voters and votes are separate from the state system.

Full Article: No data lost, no ransom paid in Louisiana cyber attack; Ardoin says no impact on state elections | Legislature | theadvocate.com.

Louisiana: Louisiana was hit by Ryuk, triggering another cyber-emergency | Sean Gallagher/Ars Technica

In October, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning of increased targeting by ransomware operators of “big game”—targets with deep pockets and critical data that were more likely to pay ransoms to restore their systems. The past week has shown that warning was for good reason. On November 18, a ransomware attack caused Louisiana’s Office of Technology Services to shut down parts of its network, including the systems of several major state agencies. These included the governor’s office, the Department of Health (including Medicare systems), the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Transportation. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards activated the state’s cybersecurity response team. While some services have been brought back online—in some cases, within hours—others are still in the process of being restored. Most of the interrupted services were caused by “our aggressive actions to combat the attack,” according to Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne. “We are confident we did not have any lost data, and we appreciate the public’s patience as we continue to bring services online over the next few days.”

Full Article: Louisiana was hit by Ryuk, triggering another cyber-emergency | Ars Technica.

Louisiana: Government computers knocked out after ransomware attack | Christopher Bing & Raphael Satter/Reuters

Louisiana state government computers were knocked out following a ransomware attack, the governor said on Monday, as results from the close gubernatorial election in the southern state await certification. Many state agencies had their servers taken down in response to the attack, Governor John Bel Edwards said in a series of messages posted to Twitter. He said the agencies were coming back online but that full restoration could take “several days.” “There is no anticipated data loss and the state did not pay a ransom,” he said. Ransomware works by scrambling data held on vulnerable computers and demanding a payment to unlock it. Louisiana Secretary of State spokesman Tyler Brey said that while his office’s website was briefly offline, the tallying of Saturday’s vote, in which Bel Edwards narrowly won re-election, was unaffected. The vote drew national attention following U.S. President Donald Trump’s well-publicized endorsement of Bel Edward’s Republican challenger, Eddie Rispone.

Full Article: Louisiana government computers knocked out after ransomware attack - Reuters.

National: States brace for ransomware assaults on voter registries | Laura Hautala/CNET

Extortionists have recently shut down municipal computer systems in Texas, Maryland, Florida and New York, threatening to erase databases unless the cities pay a ransom. Now officials around the country are concerned the tool the hackers used, known as ransomware, could be tapped to target state voter registration rolls and disrupt confidence as the nation heads into the 2020 election. Illinois, for example, is making its voter registration database accessible only from a closed fiber optic network, rather than the open internet, according to Matt Deitrich, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections. The Prairie State is making progress, though it still has a way to go, he says. Less than a third of its 108 jurisdictions currently connect to the database via the dedicated network. The security effort is worth it, Deitrich says. If a hacker successfully hits even one county’s election agency with ransomware, that can create the impression the whole system is compromised. “It’s a phenomenon that can undermine voter confidence,” Deitrich said. Ransomware would be a new feature of election hacking, which came to public attention after intelligence officials said Russian hackers probed voter registries during the 2016 presidential campaign. A ransomware attack in 2020 could prove devastating, preventing voters from registering or poll workers from confirming voter eligibility, officials say. The hackers’ goal wouldn’t be changing the votes that were cast, but spreading doubt that eligible voters were able to make their voices heard.

Full Article: States brace for ransomware assaults on voter registries - CNET.

National: Ransomware threat raises National Guard’s role in state cybersecurity | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

National Guard units already play a large role in state governments’ cybersecurity activities, such as protecting election systems, but the threat of ransomware to cripple a state or city organization is a growing concern for uniformed personnel, the top military official overseeing the National Guard across the United States said. While Americans are long used to seeing guardsmen and women roll into to disaster-stricken areas after a hurricane or wildfire, deployments following cyberattacks are increasingly common, Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel said Friday on a conference call with reporters, likening the recent ransomware incidents in Texas and Louisiana to a “cyber storm,” though not quite a “cyber hurricane.” “We’re seeing the whole of the first responder networks come to assist and mitigate the damage and get everything back up and running, and the National Guard is part of that response,” he said.

Full Article: Ransomware threat raises National Guard's role in state cybersecurity.

National: U.S. officials fear ransomware attack against 2020 election | Christopher Bing/Reuters

The U.S. government plans to launch a program in roughly one month that narrowly focuses on protecting voter registration databases and systems ahead of the 2020 presidential election. These systems, which are widely used to validate the eligibility of voters before they cast ballots, were compromised in 2016 by Russian hackers seeking to collect information. Intelligence officials are concerned that foreign hackers in 2020 not only will target the databases but attempt to manipulate, disrupt or destroy the data, according to current and former U.S. officials. “We assess these systems as high risk,” said a senior U.S. official, because they are one of the few pieces of election technology regularly connected to the Internet. The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, a division of the Homeland Security Department, fears the databases could be targeted by ransomware, a type of virus that has crippled city computer networks across the United States, including recently in Texas, Baltimore and Atlanta. “Recent history has shown that state and county governments and those who support them are targets for ransomware attacks,” said Christopher Krebs, CISA’s director. “That is why we are working alongside election officials and their private sector partners to help protect their databases and respond to possible ransomware attacks.”

Full Article: Exclusive: U.S. officials fear ransomware attack against 2020 election - Reuters.

Texas: Ransomware Attack Hits 22 Texas Towns, Authorities Say | Manny Fernandez, Mihir Zaveri and Emily S. Rueb/The New York Times

Computer systems in 22 small Texas towns have been hacked, seized and held for ransom in a widespread, coordinated cyberattack that has sent state emergency-management officials scrambling and prompted a federal investigation, the authorities said. The Texas Department of Information Resources said Monday that it was racing to bring systems back online after the “ransomware attack,” in which hackers remotely block access to important data until a ransom is paid. Such attacks are a growing problem for city, county and state governments, court systems and school districts nationwide. By Tuesday afternoon, Texas officials had lowered the number of towns affected to 22 from 23 and said several government agencies whose systems were attacked were back to “operations as usual.” The ransomware virus appeared to affect certain agencies in the 22 towns, not entire government computer systems. Officials said that there were common threads among the 22 entities and that the attacks appeared not to be random, but they declined to elaborate, citing a federal investigation. It was unclear who was responsible. The state described the attacker only as “one single threat actor.”

Full Article: Ransomware Attack Hits 22 Texas Towns, Authorities Say - The New York Times.