• Ransomware attack shuts down computer systems in Washington

    Updated:

    WASHINGTON, Pa. - It’s now been eight days since a cyber attack took down the City of Washington’s phone and email system. 

    City leaders said Monday they are optimistic everything will be back up and running soon.
    11 Investigates confirmed a malware attack took the city’s entire communication system offline since Monday, May 6, including incoming calls and emails.

    The only exception was their 911 system, which is operated through the county and still works.

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    “How concerning is it that the city was attacked in this way?” asked Channel 11’s Aaron Martin.

    “Anytime something like this happens, it’s concerning. It’s just the world we live in,” replied Washington City Councilman Joseph Manning.

    He said investigators believed the hack happened sometime Sunday morning. Since that time, city leaders said they have been working with several agencies, including the FBI to get the system fixed. The agency neither confirmed nor denied they are helping with the investigation, but sources told 11 Investigates they are heavily involved.

    Days after the hack was discovered, the bureau sent a tweet warning about how to protect yourself from ransomware.

    Manning said they are continuing to investigate the extent of the attacks. He said the city is looking at more than a dozen computers and laptops that were infected by malware.

    11 Investigates spoke with Carlow University Cyber Security Professor Mary Onufer about the difficult position malware attacks put on communities like Washington, and why it could serve as a warning for others.

    “What is that doing? What services aren't they able to provide to the people in their governing area? If this happens more and more it's disrupting a way of life,” Onufer said.


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    “Anytime something like this happens, it’s concerning. It’s just the world we live in,” replied Washington City Councilman Joseph Manning.

    He said investigators believed the hack happened sometime Sunday morning. Since that time, city leaders said they have been working with several agencies, including the FBI to get the system fixed.
    But as of Friday afternoon, there was still no timetable when that would happen.

    “We trust the people that are working to resolve the issue. We think they'll work quickly, have the issue resolved and the city can move on,” Manning said.

    Despite this attack, Manning said he believes the city’s IT security is strong, and they will evaluate it again after the issue is resolved.

    A spokeswoman for the FBI would not confirm or deny their involvement in the investigation into the malware hack.

    However, days after the hack was discovered the bureau sent a tweet warning about how to protect yourself from ransomware.


     

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