Huber Heights, Ohio, is the most recent city or town to be hacked. City officials said that the nearly 45,000-person community was hit by ransomware on Sunday around 8 a.m. local time, which messed up a number of city processes.
“People can still call 911 and the non-emergency numbers for police, fire, and EMS,” said Rick Dzik, city manager of Huber Heights, which is outside of Dayton.
The Huber Heights Civic Alerts page says that the next week will be rough for the city’s planning, engineering, tax, finance, utilities, human resources, and economic development departments. However, public safety services will not be affected.
Cybersecurity experts say that ransomware attacks, which lock users out of their system and data until a ransom is paid, are happening more and more often against schools, businesses, and local governments. These attacks often damage computer systems, disrupt city services, or release private information.
This year, other Ohio cities and towns have also had similar cyber incidents. For example, the City of Circleville had a ransomware attack in January that stopped the local court from doing its job.
Ransomware attacks, which often stop important services from working, are becoming more common. This year, the British cybersecurity company Sophos polled state and local government bodies and found that 69% had been hit by ransomware. This is up from 58% last year.
An attack on the Washington Department of Transportation last week left some information on its website and mobile apps blank. Dallas County, Texas, says it is looking into huge amounts of stolen data that were leaked by a ransomware group that has broken into places like Oakland, California, in the past and messed up public services.
The FBI, the National Security Agency, the Cybersecurity, and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center have put together a guide with best practices and a response checklist to help governments make cyber incident response plans that are specific to ransomware attacks and data theft.