County Government Crippled by Ransomware Attack

Who: Garfield County

# of Accounts Breached: Undetermined

What happened: A ransomware attack hit Garfield County’s computer systems, crippling them for weeks

When it happened: 11 April 2019

How it happened: A ransomware attack hit Garfield County’s computer systems, crippling them for weeks before they were able to pay to get access to their own data. Someone clicked on a phishing email earlier this year that launched a ransomware attack, swiping up a number of county offices’ data and locking it away. “The Assessor’s Office, the Recorder’s Office, some of the files had been taken and we didn’t know how or why,” Huntington said Thursday. “Eventually we received an email stating that some terrorists had taken our information and if we wanted it back, we had to pay them.”

Outcome: The state severed access to its systems and the FBI got involved. Many county offices were reduced to working with pen and paper.”We were told to leave our computers off while the FBI and the state looked into it,” Huntington said. “We tried to do the best we could with handwritten files and things like that. Computer-wise, we were shut down.” Garfield County ultimately paid a ransom to someone in Bitcoin to get access to its files, phones, ​and systems again, the county attorney said. Access was restored in March.

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