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City of Hartford Hit with Ransomware Attack, Causing School Delay

Cyber-attackers know that city and town officials have been gearing up for the start of school and the potential for remote learning, in school or a hybrid model all summer. The daily monitoring of the coronavirus has kept officials alert and flexible as they focus on the start of school.

Cyber-attackers also know that cities and towns often have not devoted as much time and resources into cybersecurity as private companies. So it was a perfect time—over the Labor Day weekend–for cyber criminals to hit the City of Hartford, Connecticut with a ransomware attack right before the start of school, which was scheduled for  Tuesday, September 8.

As a result of the ransomware attack, city officials had to delay the start of school, which was a major disruption to the schools, teachers, administrators, parents and students. The attack affected a majority of the city’s servers, and was certainly a distraction from other priorities.

I often hear from information technology professionals in cities and towns that they have other priorities that are perceived as more important than incident response planning, and that they are challenged by the lack of funding prioritized for cybersecurity by city officials.

The planning for the start of school was certainly a priority over the summer, but if an incident response plan is not in place, the timing of a cyber attack can throw all that careful planning right out the window.

What happened to Hartford is happening repeatedly across the country and the attacks are coming faster and with more teeth. City officials may wish to consider making cybersecurity, including appropriate budgeting and implementing an incident response plan, a priority, because it is not a matter of if, but when that ransomware attack will occur.

Copyright © 2020 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 255
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About this Author

Linn F. Freedman, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Cybersecurity and Litigation Law Attorney, Providence
Partner

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She provides guidance on data privacy and cybersecurity compliance to a full range of public and private clients across all industries, such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine, and charitable organizations. Linn is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and chairs its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She is also a member of the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team (CyFi ...

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