Municipality Ransomware Attacks Up 60% in 2019, Kaspersky Research Finds
At least 174 municipal institutions suffered ransomware attacks in 2019, according to research from antivirus software provider Kaspersky. This represents a 60 percent year-over-year increase.
In addition, cybercriminals demanded an average ransom amount of approximately $1 million and requested ransoms up to $5.3 million from municipalities this year, Kaspersky reported. They also frequently used the Ryuk, Purga and Stop malware families during their municipality ransomware attacks.
Notable Municipality Ransomware Attacks in 2019
Cybercriminals launched many ransomware attacks against cities, towns and government organizations in 2019, including:
- December 2019: The town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island battled and mitigated a ransomware attack.
- Dec. 7, 2019: The city of Pensacola, Florida suffers a cyberattack that impacts its phones, email and various e-commerce services.
- Nov. 18, 2019: A ransomware attack shuts down Louisiana state websites and many online government services.
- July 25, 2019: City Power, the electric utility for Johannesburg, South Africa, discloses a ransomware attack.
- June 26, 2019: Lake City, Florida agrees to pay the ransom associated with a ransomware attack.
- June 20, 2019: Riviera Beach, Florida, discloses ransomware attack and payment.
- May 7, 2019: City of Baltimore hit with a ransomware attack.
- April 2019: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport suffered a ransomware attack.
- April 2019: Augusta, Maine, suffered a malware attack that froze the city’s network and forced the city center to close.
- April 2019: Hackers stole roughly $498,000 from the city of Tallahassee, Florida.
- March 2019: Albany, New York, suffered a ransomware attack.
- March 2019: Jackson County, Georgia officials paid cybercriminals $400,000 after a cyberattack shut down the county’s computer systems.
- March 2018: Atlanta, Georgia suffered a ransomware attack.
- February 2018: Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) employee computers were temporarily shut down due to a SamSam ransomware virus cyberattack.
There are many things that municipalities can do to combat ransomware attacks, such as:
- Implement data backup software and services.
- Deploy endpoint, network and cloud security solutions.
- Provide employees with cybersecurity awareness training.
- Perform regular software updates and patching.
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA).
Also, partnering with an MSSP can help a municipality prepare for cyberattacks. MSSPs can offer security services and insights that enable municipalities to optimize their security posture and limit the risk of data breaches.