Las Vegas is under massive cyberattack. Government services affected

Information security specialists report that a hacker group has attacked the government’s IT systems in the city of Las Vegas; experts fear this will be a new incident in the wave of ransomware attacks against public organizations in the US. The attack was confirmed on Tuesday night by city officials.

At a press conference, David Riggleman, a spokesman for the local government, said: “The city of Las Vegas has experienced a cyberattack during the early hours of this Tuesday; the incident affected some public services. For now, we cannot confirm with certainty whether the public information was compromised, although we will continue to report when new details are discovered.”  

Authorities added that the city’s IT department is evaluating the information security incident. In addition, the local government claims that the incident was immediately detected and measures were put in place to prevent further damage. “Some systems, such as street lighting or traffic lights, may report small failures, but everything will be resolved as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman said.

The spokesman added that Las Vegas authorities face an average of nearly 300,000 hacking attempts against their systems each month. In the event that this incident involves any variant of ransomware, Las Vegas is likely to take measures similar to those of the cities of New Orleans and Pensacola, whose governments decided to declare a state of emergency in the face of the ravages caused by encryption malware infections.

2019 was a truly complex year in terms of ransomware attacks in the U.S. according to a report published by information security firm Emsisoft, more than a thousand government agencies, educational institutions and medical service companies suffered attacks from ransomware last year.

Specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) mention that among the main causes of this increase in the incidence of ransomware attacks is the poor cybersecurity planning of local governments, in addition to the few resources available to municipalities and school districts.

Another relevant factor is the development of multiple variants of ransomware and the emergence of “ransomware as a service”, with which a user can contract attacks against individuals or organizations without the need to develop a malware variant.