High Profile Cybersecurity Incidents
These cybersecurity incidents are just a few examples of the kinds of threats currently facing the state of Minnesota – threats that are only growing in sophistication and precision.
Atlanta. On March 22, 2018, a ransomware attack hit the city of Atlanta’s computer systems, demanding payment for the release of encrypted data. The attack affected internal programs and customer-facing applications that allowed residents to pay bills. A week later, the city could not process new water service requests online, and citizens who needed to finalize issues or pay fines at the Atlanta Municipal Court were being turned away. At this time, the extent of the attack is unclear.
Mecklenberg County. On December 5, 2017, a ransomware attack hit Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, slowing services as county workers implemented paper processes to keep work flowing. The hackers demanded payment and limited residents’ abilities to apply for vacant county jobs, pay property taxes, register deeds, perform air quality services, complete building code inspections, make park reservations, enforce child support, and make automated payments. Services took around one month to be fully restored.
Equifax. As one of the nation’s three credit reporting agencies, Equifax housed millions of American’s sensitive data. From mid-May through July 2017, hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and some credit card information. 147.9 million US consumers were impacted by this incident, with details continuing to emerge months later about the extent of the impact.
WannaCry. This May 2017 worldwide ransomware attack targeted computers running on Microsoft Windows operating systems and demanded bitcoin ransom payments. This attack spread quickly as it encrypted data on at least 75,000 computers in 99 countries. Notably, the National Health Service hospitals in England and Scotland were rendered unable to access patient data, and some ambulances were diverted and patients were turned away as a result.
Guccifer. Guccifer is the moniker for a Romanian hacker named Marcel Hele Lazar, who targeted public figures, government leaders, business executives, and celebrities in the United States and abroad. He accessed personal email and social media accounts belonging to around 100 Americans, stored their personal data, and sold it to media outlets. His admitted victims include an immediate family member of two former US presidents, a former member of the US Cabinet, a former member of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a former presidential advisor. On September 1, 2016, he was sentenced to 52 months in prison for unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft.