Daily Post 1353


The woes does not seem to end this season. With COVID-19 and George Floyd protests engulfing the US, a cyber security attack in certainly not a welcome incident. It is small incident compared to other two of gigantic proportions, nonetheless it seems to be the beginning of another round of ransomware attacks. That too at a time when the digital underbelly is really vulnerable given the nature of work from home and gadgets / networks recklessly getting connected to our supposedly secure IT systems. The City of Knoxville, Tennnesse, shuts down network after ransomware attack.

The city with a reported population of almost 870,000 in 2015, the government networked computers were encrypted overnight. City’s fire department employees noticed the attack around 4.30 am on 11th June, 2020. This was revealed by their Chief Operations Officer Brace. Knoxville was forced to shut down its entire computer network. The City Courts were also down. The inevitability of hacks seems to have been accepted. Getting hacked is the new normal. The Knox county Mayor issued a statement, ”Cyber attacks can happen to anyone or any government no matter how good the defense is. In a lot of cases it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.”

Yet, we have to be better prepared, it’s a war of attrition and the inevitability theory should not be used as an excuse. Knox County was affected by cyberattack in May 2018 when Knox County Government in Knoxville got some of it’s servers knocked offline. This was a distributed denial of service, DDoS during a local election. The elections machines were not connected was the saving grace. For the last two years government after government, small to midsized ones, have been attacked by ransomware at a huge cost to the citizenry and mockery to the government. Last May, Baltimore was attacked by a WannaCry type of a ransomware, systems connected which allowed for a vulnerability which should have been mandatorily patched around two years back.

Tens of cities have been attacked in this manner. Some even contrary to the legal position, have even ended up paying ransom. There is an insurance angle also to these ransomware attacks. In the present case the ransomware group is still unknown and the Chief Operations Officer David Brace said that the threat actors behind this attack have also asked for ransom but he refused to give the exact amount. The audacity of the these actors can be gauged from the fact that they have been attacking governments at their whims and fancy. It’s not known whether in any of these cases, which would more than 20, have the culprits been arrested. Is it a free for all. If we can’t defend govt systems and simultaneously lose the capability of bringing them to book, the battle is lost before it has begun.


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