typewriter and old papers (PongMoji/Shutterstock.com)

Ransomware calls for desperate measures – even typewriters

A mid-July ransomware hack has brought a small borough in Alaska to its knees.

Government workers in south-central Matanuska-Susitna have been hand-writing receipts and lists of patron's library books for weeks now, the Washington Post reported on Aug. 1. Hackers used ransomware to take control of desktop computers, email servers and telephone systems, forcing the local government to dust off typewriters to complete tasks normally done electronically.

The FBI is now attempting to recover decryption keys for the data systems.

Though old-school typewriters may keep messages from electronic spies and could be used as a backup in future cyberattacks, they're not much help for the borough, which is just one of the latest government victims of recent ransomware attacks.

Matanuska-Susitna IT Director Eric Wyatt said that this ransomware campaign has hit 209 other parties. The case is similar to the March 22 ransomware attack on Atlanta that encrypted data across the city’s government and compelled the city police to “revert to reporting on paper” and Atlanta International Airport to temporarily take down its public Wi-Fi networks.

Not all of the Atlanta's networks were affected, and the city was able to fall back on its cloud-based security strategy. Still, it was an expensive lesson. The damage could total $17 million, according to an Aug. 1 report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

About the Author

Caroline Mohan is an editorial intern for FCW and GCN. She can be reached at [email protected].

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