In the past two months, enormous ransomware cyberattacks have rippled across the world targeting many industry sectors – including city governments.  These attacks include the recent Petya (aka GoldenEye), reported in late June 2017, as well as WannaCry May 2017.

The fact is ransomware has become the cybercrime “du jour” and according to NBC News, is now a billion dollar industry.

Cities are on high alert

While ransomware can target any industry, business or individual, Government Computer News reports that the government sector is seeing a larger proportion of ransomware attacks than ever before.

A recent report shows that the incidents of attacks on government entities doubled from seven  percent in 2015 to 14 percent in 2016, pulling the government sector into “…a first-place tie with finance, according to Dimension Data’s Global Threat Intelligence Report 2017.”

Experts cite the reasons for the increased attacks on government sectors is attributed to cybercriminals laser-focusing on information – which governments have plenty of locked away in their servers.

CXO Today warns that ”… government offices … are particularly important to secure, as they often handle very sensitive information, perform critical tasks, and are part of large networks…Government entities should always be aware of the types of data they need to protect, what degree of technology-based protection they need, and they need to conduct periodic reviews to make sure they are up to date with the latest best practices…”

Understanding Ransomware

Ransomware is a specific type of malware cyber-attack that gains access to an entity’s network, typically through phishing or otherwise malicious emails.  Once in, Ransomware then proceeds to encrypt and block all data, —  holding it hostage until a ransom sum has been paid.

Regaining control of the hijacked data requires paying for a key to unlock the blocked data – which can be costly and not always effectual.  Sometimes victims are instructed to pay the ransom via Bitcoin to an email address the criminals provide – only to find that key is not functional.

CNET reports that ransomware attacks have become more sophisticated as well as damaging.  In the past cybercriminals might have targeted individual files or servers but now they are targeting entire systems.  “Compared with GoldenEye, WannaCry looks like it was written by amateurs,” writes CNET. “Using Petya, the new ransomware attack (GoldenEye) not only encrypts crucial files but your entire hard drive and then forces your computer to restart.”

 

City governments must ensure their data is properly protected. Ransomware and other cyber threats are very real and happening with rapidly increasing frequency all over the globe. For more information on protecting your network, contact DiamondIT.