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Madison County Adjust Backup Plan Following Ransomware Attack

In November of last year, Madison County, Indiana, suffered a widespread ransomware attack that shut down nearly all of the county services. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that is designed to lock users out of a computer system until a ransom is paid.

It has been reported that Madison County have paid the $21000 ransom in order to obtain the encryption keys, on advice of their insurance, after being told that they had seven days to pay it.

Many industry professionals are against the practice of paying the ransom, saying that it fuels the industry and encourages others to attempt similar attacks if the success rate is high. However, after having to report back to pen and paper and not being able to access the country records, Madison County perhaps had no other choice.

One of the only things unaffected by the breach was the voting system, which was stored on a different system. A small silver lining perhaps, but it’s still entirely unacceptable that an entire county can have all their systems knocked offline due to a ransomware attack.

In response to the attack, data will now be stored at two off-site locations in an attempt to be better prepared should there be another attack in the future. Madison County Council approved around $200000 for the system upgrades following the attack.

Breaking down the cost, the director of the Information Technology System department explained that a large sum will be used for the off-site storage costs and the contract to support that, some will go into the budget for this year, with the rest going towards equipment and other setup costs.

It may seem like a large amount when compared to the ransom amount, but that $21000 cost doesn’t take into account the impact that the attack and resulting outage would have had on the county. Many couldn’t do their jobs due to the reliance on computer systems, meaning productivity and efficiency dropped. Not to mention the confidence drop that this would have on the county’s citizens.

Prior to the ransomware attack, the county didn’t have any off-site backup. Instead, they simply backed up every night in our system. If this story tells us anything it’s to always ensure that your backup plan has redundancy considered. It’s no good backing up your data to the same server as your source data – if the source goes down, so does the backup, meaning the entire system is useless.

Ransomware attacks have been rising exponentially month on month as malicious users look to exploit businesses who don’t have strong disaster recovery systems in place, leaving many with little choice but to pay the ransom. Of course, paying that ransom doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll even get the data back. While it’s impossible to protect your data from every single threat, you should still try and prevent it as much as possible: invest in a data plan that provides protection, but also one that means you can recover your data quickly and easily should disaster strike.


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