City of Racine attacked with ransomware

NOW: City of Racine attacked with ransomware

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) – Ransomware has infected the City of Racine’s computer systems.

The doors at City Hall remained open Monday, Feb. 3. In fact, people were encouraged to conduct their business in person since the ransomware attack impacted the city’s website, email, and online payment system.

“Early Friday morning, city systems were infected by what is known as ransomware,” explained Racine Mayor Corey Mason. “Ransomware encrypts files and software preventing use and is usually accompanied by a ransomware request.”

Mason says they have not received a direct ransom request, and adds they would not pay it.

“Municipalities are a target,” explains Geoff Gardiner, owner of Rescue Dog Technology. “We’re seeing a lot of non-profits, churches, those types of stuff. Anyone now, because of the business piece, is a target.”

It’s a situation Gardiner says can easily happen to anyone.

“They’re very well disguised, usually in emails,” says Gardiner. “We tell people to make sure you’re not opening any emails with attachments, even if they come from people you know.”

The city has more than 700 employees with access to the same system. They’re now working with their cyber security insurance provider to get their systems back up and running.

“It appears that none of our backup data had been breached, and that includes all personal identification information,” says Mason.

The city also reported this at the state and federal level.

The library, police and fire departments were said to not be affected, and have been conducting business as usual.

Since anyone can fall victim to this, security experts recommend the following steps to protect yourself.

“Make sure that you’re backed-up beforehand, make sure you’re not opening attachments that you don’t recognize, and If you can, turn on two-factor authentication,” says Gardiner.

The city is still conducting an investigation into the cause. They don’t expect to have the systems up and running this week, but their doors and phone lines will remain open.

Absentee voting is also still available.

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