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Sammamish, Washington Declares Emergency After Ransomware Attack

I was a speaker at a recent conference of municipalities in a state last week, and during my presentation, I mentioned the various cyber-attacks that have affected cities, towns and educational departments in the U.S. (Atlanta, GA;, Farmington, CT; West Haven, CT; Leeds, AL; Yarrow Point, WA; and Leominster, MA to name a few). Little did I know that at that very time, the City of Sammamish, WA was declaring an emergency following a ransomware attack on the City’s computer system.

The emergency was declared so City officials could quickly hire cybersecurity experts without going through standard contracting and procurement processes.

The City’s computers were shut down for most of the day when the attack occurred. Following the attack, the City took down a building permit portal and map services, and residents had to resort to the olden days of having to go to City Hall to access those services while the computers were down.

Municipalities are known targets of cyber-attacks due to limited resources and a perceived lack of cyber readiness and sophistication. These attacks can bring cities and towns to their knees, which is the reason to increase awareness and preparedness.

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About this Author

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

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 ...