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Racine, Wis., Still Reeling from Friday Ransomware Attack

The City of Racine is still recovering from a ransomware attack; it’s computer systems will remain frozen for the remainder of the week. The city’s Mayor has authorized a cybersecurity team to audit the systems.

by Christina Lieffring, The Journal Times / February 4, 2020

(TNS) — The City of Racine’s computer systems are expected to remain frozen for the rest of the week after a Friday ransomware attack, but all analog services will continue.

Mayor Cory Mason said the city’s insurance covers cyberattacks and its insurer has commissioned a cybersecurity team to audit the city’s computer systems. As of Monday, that team has reported that it appears the malware has not compromised the city’s backup data or any data from residents or employees.

Because the backup data appears to be untouched, officials are optimistic that once the system is unfrozen, it can be mostly restored to its pre-ransomeware state.

It remains unknown how the malware entered the system, but Mason said the most likely explanation is that someone opened a phishing email. Ransomware is usually spread through phishing emails or visiting an infected website, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a division of the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Mason also said that, unlike other cases of ransomware, the city has not been contacted by any entity demanding payment. Mason added that, “even if we did, we would not respond.”

Mason emphasized that city employees are still doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

“City staff is still here, still providing core services,” said Mason.

All analog services (those not requiring computers) will continue. The Racine Public Library is open and meetings scheduled for this week, including a Committee of the Whole and City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, will continue as scheduled. Trash pickup and emergency fire and police services will continue unabated.

Tax collections system, 911 and other public safety systems are not affected because they are housed by Racine County. However, monetary payments to the city have to be either by cash or check since the credit-card system is down.

Residents are encouraged to call city offices but the ransomware has also affected the city’s voicemail system. If no one answers, the caller will have to call back or stop by City Hall or the City Hall Annex.

The City of Baltimore was attacked by ransomware in May, with an estimated impact to that city of $18.2 million, according to The Baltimore Sun.

©2020 The Journal Times, Racine, Wisc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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