Cyber threats to local governments.
By Tim Nodar, CyberWire senior staff writer.
Jul 18, 2023

Ransomware and other attacks on local governments should drive a push for greater resiliency.

Cyber threats to local governments.

Government agencies in Wisconsin’s Langlade County disclosed “catastrophic software failures” last week, the Record reports. While the issues haven’t been publicly attributed to a ransomware attack, the LockBit ransomware gang has added Langdade County to its list of victims. The gang is threatening to publish the stolen data if the ransom isn’t paid by August 1st.

The California city of Hayward also sustained a ransomware attack last week, causing the City Council to declare a state of emergency, ABC7 reports. The city stated:

“Since discovery of the cyber intrusion early Sunday morning, the City has maintained essential services, including 9-1-1 emergency dispatch, police, firefighter and emergency-medical response, water and sewer operations, and maintenance services.

“Access to the City website and email traffic into City offices have been restored after being turned off as precautionary measures.

“Thus far, no evidence has been found of a breach or theft of private personal or confidential information of any current or former City employee, community member or other member of the public.  If that were to change, the City would contact the affected individual or individuals directly.”

Reasons to pursue resilience.

Kevin Kirkwood, Deputy CISO at LogRhythm, sees the incidents as offering strong motivation for local governments to pursue resilience.

“Last week, Langlade County in Wisconsin announced a ‘catastrophic software failure’ believed to be the result of an alleged LockBit ransomware attack. Severe technological problems were reported by the county, which has a population of about 20,000, including downed phone lines at the sheriff's office. LockBit has continued its targeted attacks in recent months, including a recent high-profile ransom demand of $70 million from a chip manufacturer's supplier. LockBit has taken responsibility for more than 1,653 ransomware attacks that have targeted state and local administrations as well as major cities like Oakland.  

“Counties must establish a resilient cybersecurity framework to effectively safeguard against data theft and extortion attempts, considering the ongoing profitability of these malicious activities. Beyond implementing essential measures like robust password management, threat detection systems, and real-time monitoring for enhanced visibility, a comprehensive cybersecurity posture should encompass efficient incident response strategies. Prioritizing security and safeguarding invaluable data necessitates regular patching, comprehensive backups, and a strong emphasis on ongoing educational training initiatives. By adopting these practices, counties can bolster their defenses and mitigate the risks associated with cyberattacks.”