The outbreak of ransomware type malware threats on computers has been making headlines as of late. In fact, Michigan’s Genesee County, at the epicenter of Flint, has been the brunt of a ransomware attack that has knocked off-line many services that they provide for their over 400,000 residents in what appears to be much worse than initially thought.
Earlier this week, Genesee County officials discovered a ransomware attack on their systems that ceased normal operations in their government offices. The county administration was forced to slow the flow of business operations placing signs in the windows of city buildings explaining that their computer systems were down, and they were unable to process payments or provide information.
The ransomware attack, currently an unknown variation of ransomware, affected county systems in a way that they were useless in the day-to-day functions of processing resident information. The treasurer’s office computers were unable to provide tax information, accept payments, or certify deeds. At such a critical time where Americans will be required to file their taxes in the weeks to come, Genesee County has found themselves to be in a bind.
Ransomware has proliferated over the past few years to become the most prevalent form of malware in existence. Commonly, most ransomware threats, like LockerGoga, will lock up an infected computer where it will then encrypt files so it may make demands to the user to pay a ransom fee for supposedly restoring or decrypting the encrypted files. From the many reports out of Genesee County, it looks as if several of their administration computers have succumbed to a variation of ransomware that performs the same act. Though, officials have stated that no personal data or that of residents was compromised in the ransomware attack, which is believable considering how ransomware’s objective is money extortion instead of theft of data.
At the current time, the County Clerk of Genesee, John Cleason, has explained that their office has updated software and equipment, which has kept them operational. A few other select offices throughout Genesee County that do not have state-run systems have remained operational through the ransomware attack. However, there is suspect that the ransomware is continuing to plague the County computers in repeated attacks.
County officials in Genesee are actively figuring out what business transactions can be performed while the IT office is busy attempting to remedy the issue as a whole. Unfortunately, as of now, no information is available as to what the ransomware demands are and if the county has elected to pay the ransom or restore their systems from a backup. Hopefully, they can elect to choose the latter option as doing such is in their best interest and will help prevent hackers from receiving a payday and further empower them to spread more ransomware.