Hackers Publish City Files Online after Local Government Refuses to Pay Ransom

The Voice • February 2020

Hackers personalize ransom threats…
by uploading city files belonging to Pensacola, Florida after local government refuses to pay ransom. With this move comes a bold – and frightening – shift in the way cyber-terrorists are responding to ransom denials. These files were posted on a public-facing website, accessible to all, and the criminals threatened to reveal more until ransom was paid.

Pensacola, Florida was struck by the malware attack on December 7th, 2019 which rendered the city without phone usage, email servers, 311 lines, and online bill payment systems. The virus, similar to one against Allied Universal, was identified shortly thereafter. While these hackers – known as the Maze hackers – have made similar attacks on the private sector in the past, it seems as though Pensacola, Florida, was the first government body to be affected by the group’s virus.

This style of ransom-gathering – being called an intimidation tactic – is not new to the world. In August 2019, 23 local governments in Texas were hit by a virus and shortly thereafter threatened with these intimidation tactics. While similar in nature, these two instances were performed by separate groups of cyber criminals, indicating a rise in yet another form of cyber-terrorism. These viruses are often spread through phising emails where the sender pretends to be from other government agencies such as tax collectors or even postal services.

As technology advances, so, too, does the opportunity for these cyber criminals to make a foothold and start reaping the rewards earned from terrorizing the private and public sectors. It is more important now, than ever, to be on the look out and to be aware of the threats surrounding our modern-age conveniences. It’s not a matter of “if”, but rather “when”, and counties who are ahead of the game in preparation are counties who survive the attacks properly.

CLICK HERE to read the full article on statescoop‘s website.

CLICK HERE to read a similar article outlining how to identify these faux-government emails.