Becker County Minnesota Suffers Ransomware Attack

Media Division | August 16, 2017

There are numerous threats among the landscape that tend to be more prominent than others. One of these is ransomware, which is essentially a type of malware that infects systems and locks up user files. Once it has completed this step, the user will then receive a ransom demand from the perpetrator of the attack, which will say that if their demands are not met, the locked files will be corrupted or destroyed, and if they are met, a decryption key will be sent. The amount of ransom that is demanded can vary quite widely, as it often demands on how large the affected organization is, as well as the type of data that was encrypted. These types of attacks have become so prominent that according to the FBI, ransomware was expected to extort various organizations for around $1 billion by the end of last year. In yet another attack like this, Becker County in Minnesota has been infected by ransomware that spread into several parts of their systems.

Ransomware attacks are typically introduced to systems through phishing emails which contain malicious links or attachments that download the malware, and this also seems to be the case in the recent attack, although they have not specifically identified where it came from. According to reports, the attack that hit Becker Country has resulted in their website being shut down, printers being disabled, and it is also slowly spreading to their entire IT network. It appears that the perpetrators have sent them a ransom demand email, but it did not contain a named dollar amount. Administrator Jack Ingstad said that he has been informing board members to not accept anything digital sent from the county, as it may be corrupted and potentially infect their systems as well. Ingstad has called the attack extensive and has told people to remain cautious until they hear from IT staff.

How Becker County Will Remediate the Attack

While attacks like this are never ideal, Becker County had been adequately prepared security wise for an event like this, mainly through maintaining proper backups. Regular system wide backups are one of the most valuable actions that an organization can take. When it comes to being hit by a ransomware attack, proper backups can convert the situation into a minor inconvenience, rather than a disaster. The reason being that when ransomware infects a system and encrypts a large amount of files, the system can simply be restored from the backup, which removes the infection without any data loss. Fortunately, Becker County had completed a backup the night before the infection, which means they can easily restore their systems with minimal down time.

The Vital Necessity for Cyber Security Monitoring in the Modern Landscape

A wide variety of modern threats are designed to insidiously and covertly infect systems and perform their malicious tasks. Because of this, infiltrating threats often go undetected for months or even over a year at times, which allows them to steal more data or cause further damage. This is where cyber security monitoring is a vital implement in the contemporary threat landscape. It provides comprehensive awareness over networks and systems, and send alerts to IT staff in regard to any anomalies or indicators of compromise. This allows IT to immediately investigate these alerts, and address them if shown to be malicious. Threats are not able to go undetected for extended periods of time, as they can be identified rapidly in their attempts to breach. Cyber security monitoring can help organizations of all types and sizes to protect their networks and systems in real time.

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