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Rhode Island Town Successfully Fights Ransomware Attack

Finally, some good local government news in the war versus ransomware. The Town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, successfully battled and mitigated a ransomware attack in recent days, a local NBC News affiliate reports.

According to the NBC recap:

  • The town’s director of IT, Wendy Schmidle, rapidly shut down the municipality’s network when the attack began.
  • From there, the town activated its disaster recovery plan — which leverages regular data backups.
  • Restoring the network involved extensive weekend hours by the IT team — but no ransomware was paid and no data was lost, the report said.

The town did not disclose how the ransomware slipped onto its network, nor did city officials disclose which type of backup and disaster recovery (BDR) system protected and restored the town’s data. Also, the town did not disclose whether it leverages a third-part MSP, MSSP or IT consulting firm for risk mitigation guidance and data protection services.

East Greenwich is an “affluent’ town that had a population of about 13,000 people as of  2010, according to Wikipedia.

Ransomware Remains Major Government Threat

Still, plenty of U.S. towns, cities and municipalities continue to suffer from ransomware attacks. Recent attack victims include The City of Pensacola, Florida, which lost phone, email and various e-commerce services earlier this week amid an attack, according to Mayor Grover Robinson.

Based on successful attacks against numerous cities, it’s safe to say many U.S. municipalities don’t have proper:

  1. backup software/services and associated testing services;
  2. endpoint, network and cloud security;
  3. cybersecurity awareness training;
  4. patch management; and
  5. best practices such as two-factor authentication (2FA).

Still, there are signs of progress outside of East Greenwich. Amid the ongoing attacks, the U.S. Conference of Mayors in July 2019 unanimously resolved to no longer accede to any ransom demands from hackers.

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