Home Security Ransomware hits local government offices in Ohio

Ransomware hits local government offices in Ohio

Ransomware has hit several local government offices in the US state of Ohio and the authorities are still uncertain when things will get back to normal.

According to the Newark Advocate, the ransomware was discovered in Licking County late on Tuesday (31 January) night. The local authorities shut down all computers and phone systems to prevent the malware from spreading.

On Thursday US time, officials said they were still investigating and had no idea when they would be able to restore services.

Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb was quoted by the newspaper as saying: ""We know some things you'll all find interesting and it's nothing we'll release to the public. It's fair to say we're making progress. We're evaluating our backups. We think our backups are pretty darn good."

The county had about 1000 PCs and a dozen servers. Bubb said two servers at a remote site were affected.

The auditor of Licking County, Mike Smith, said it was lucky that the attack took place on Tuesday as pay cheques were processed on Monday.

However, county officials are now worried that they may be unable to process cheques for the next payday on 6 February.

Processing deeds, transfers and lot splits has ground to a halt at the auditor's office.

Due to the attack, the 911 centre and the county clerk had to do their work manually, without using either PCs or phones.

Smith said there was a bright side to the whole episode: the clock still worked.

Ransomware attacks on Windows systems have become increasingly common these days. As iTWire reported, the Washington DC police cameras, a luxury hotel in Austria and a police department in Texas were all victims recently.

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.