City Officials of Grass Valley Negotiates with the Handlers of Ransomware Attack

 

The city of Grass Valley is one of the latest victims of a ransomware attack. The operators of the ransomware attack informed the city officials that they had obtained data from city systems and threatened to post it on the web if the city doesn't pay a ransom. Surprisingly, the city officials decided to pay the ransom. 

“I think everyone’s a target. We’re not supposed to negotiate with terrorists – it emboldens them,” said Matthew Coulter, a Grass Valley resident who clearly wasn’t happy by the decision taken by the city officials.

According to Grass Valley police, they were left with no choice after the perpetrators contacted them in late June and threatened to publish the stolen data. The copied data allegedly included information on people or businesses that had conversations with various Grass Valley systems, including law enforcement.

“If we didn’t pay a small ransom and that data was dumped on the world wide web, then all of the people that we interacted with would be at risk of identity theft, loss of privacy, et cetera. One of the factors that weighed heavily for the city council was if this was something we could do to protect the people that we serve,” said Grass Valley attorney Michael Colatuono. 

City and emergency services were not greatly affected, and some discretionary outages were temporarily implemented. The cost of the incident is covered by the city’s insurance, according to an earlier press release and statements during the news conference.

Grass Valley isn’t the first city in the region to become a target, and likely won’t be the last. Sierra College was affected earlier this year, others are dealing with similar issues. City officials said the Federal Bureau of Investigation was contacted and that various state agencies are still investigating to find the perpetrators behind the attack. Credit monitoring is available to anyone interested if their personal data may have been breached.

To counter any cyberattack, the most important thing to look out for is ‘phishing’ emails. They may come from emails that you seem to recognize, but they could be pretending to be someone you are familiar with. He said to always check email addresses and avoid clicking on links you don’t recognize, referencing how one click could read this chaos, said Matt Bishop, a cybersecurity expert and UC Davis professor.