Brockton cyberattack the latest in rising string of targeted strikes against local governments

It’s been almost a week and police work is still manual in Brockton because of a cyberattack. But they’re not the only ones dealing with this. We’ve learned hackers targeting government agencies such as police departments have more than doubled since this time last year.

Over the last month, government and military agencies in the U.S. are averaging 758 cyberattacks per week. That’s more than double the 350 average from the same timeframe last year, according to Checkpoint software.

“I just don’t think people understand the scope of the amount of cyberattacks that take place on a daily, weekly basis,” said Mark Ostrowski of Checkpoint Software. “That becomes the launching point for further cyberattacks, which eventually leads to ransomware, which is then the monetization of the attack itself.”

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It’s unknown the extent of damage at Brockton PD.

“The City of Brockton is currently investigating a cyberattack on its police department computer systems,” said Mayor Robert F. Sullivan. “This event has not halted our ability to respond to emergency calls, patrol the Brockton community, or perform our vital policing functions. We have no reason to believe this was a targeted attack. Although other city departments have taken precautionary measures in response to the attack, those departments continue to perform their vital functions as well. Upon discovery of the event, we immediately began working with computer forensic specialists to investigate the incident and our internal information technology staff has been working diligently to restore the systems at the police department to full technical functionality as quickly as possible. We also immediately notified federal and state law enforcement authorities of the attack, and our investigation into its source is ongoing. While we work to determine the full impact and continue to review activity, we are unable to provide additional comment at this time.”

Government agencies are number six on Checkpoint’s list of the most commonly hacked industries:

  1. Service Providers
  2. Communications
  3. Education/Research
  4. Healthcare
  5. Software vendor
  6. Government/Military

Locally, ransoms have been demanded from or paid by several agencies and organizations. Checkpoint said paying only makes you more vulnerable in the future.

“You have cases of people who don’t pay their Ransom just because they have maybe strong backups and good isolation,” Ostrowski said. “What happens when this happens is they just disconnect, they remediate and they come back online again. Right now, they should be creating a scenario of isolation where you have services that are not available to other services so that when you have an issue, it’s contained.

“Specific to ransomware. One of the biggest things you can do ahead of time is just to have good backups. But it’s more than just having a good backup, it’s the ability to actually revert in a quick manner.”

One of the more recent attacks in the state happened to the City of Lawrence a few months ago. We reached back out to them to see where the status of that investigation was. A spokesperson said they couldn’t comment on that, only to say they are back up and running.

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