Cybersecurity incidents continue to occur in public organizations. Ethical hacking specialists report that David Creery, a prominent official in the city of Woodstock, UK, has confirmed that public systems suffered an infection of an unidentified variant of malware that has prevented access to the networks of data and email server. The UK authorities are already investigating possible causes of the incident.
On the malware, Creery stated: “This attack appears to be a ransomware; however, so far we have not received a ransom note or anything similar”. It should be remembered that the ransomware is a variant of malware that blocks access to the victim’s data until the attackers get a ransom.
To make matters worse, the Woodstock Police Service detected a similar attack in the early hours of September 24, although it has also not been confirmed to be a ransomware infection. Police Service says operations have not been affected by this incident.
The city is also working with a group of ethical hacking specialists, who have said that so far there is no evidence to prove that confidential information has been extracted either from Woodstock’s public systems or from the local police force.
The city and its collaborators are working to reduce the impact of the incident and subsequently completely eliminate any traces of infection. “We have already taken some steps, such as isolating the infected computers and investigating the access point used by the attackers; this week the operations will have to be fully restored,” Says Creery. Woodstock police, meanwhile, are working with the UK Cybercrime Unit. It is not yet known if it is a ransomware, but because of these actions it seems unlikely that the city will try to negotiate with the hackers.
Unfortunately, this is not the only time that public agencies in the UK are victims of ransomware attacks. According to ethical hacking specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS), the city of Stratford experienced a similar incident a few months ago; on that occasion; local authorities had to pay a ransom in Bitcoin equivalent to about 75k dollars, noting that there was no evidence of data theft.
For specialists and members of the cybersecurity community, such attacks are becoming all too common, which is worrying. “We have recently detected two high-profile ransomware attacks, both of which occurred within a relatively short span, this is a serious problem and it’s getting worse,” says Carmi Levy, an expert in ethical hacking at a technology firm established in London.
For many, one factor that has certainly contributed to the increase of these attacks is the willingness to pay the ransom shown by the victims, all in order to recover access to their files quickly: “It doesn’t matter if you manage to recover your files, when you decide paying the ransom becomes susceptible to other incidents in the future,” the expert concludes.