Michigan government must pay over $1.8M USD due to ransomware attack

A new cybersecurity incident in the U.S. has been revealed. According to reports from information security services experts, the Genesee County administration in Michigan will have to spend about $1.8 million to correct a number of serious drawbacks in their IT infrastructure, caused by a ransomware attack in early 2019.

Local authorities have just approved this investment as part of an update program in their computer networks, data centers, cybersecurity measures, communications systems, as well as security monitoring equipment (surveillance cameras).

In the words of Carl Wilson, director of Genesee’s Information Office, all these improvements are absolutely necessary, as county systems currently do not have cybersecurity event protection measures such as the one that happened a few months ago; “Our security hasn’t really improved much since then,” he said. “After consulting with information security services specialists, we conclude that most of our computer systems are obsolete, manufacturers no longer release updates for them and are easy target for cybercriminals.”

Wilson was hired last May and his main job is to coordinate the restructuring of Genesee’s computer systems, including managing the financial resources that the county decides to invest in this work. The goal of local authorities is to create a secure environment for data processing, hardware & software management, process automation, and more.

According to information security services specialists, the main reason Genesee authorities decided to upgrade all their computer systems is the ransomware attack that compromised networks across the county, an incident that led to the permanent loss of a considerable amount of information.

From that incident, the local government launched a call waiting for proposals to update its IT infrastructure, despite the high costs this could represent to Genesee’s economy. Because this project transcends the county’s IT budget, the board of commissioners has had to fight to get the necessary resources to be authorized. It has been unofficially mentioned that Genesee’s economic reserves amount to about $38 million USD. 

Specialists in information security services from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) indicate that the preliminary estimate of $1.8 million USD could increase during the process of implementing updates; in addition to that this first calculation does not include training costs for staff. “It’s an unfortunate fact, but it’s the reality. We’re really behind in a number of areas, so this investment is necessary,” said Mark Young, Genesee commissioner.

So far, the authorities have only implemented some improvements to the audio and video systems operating in the county government building auditorium, a process that has cost about $45,500 USD, according to local media reports.