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The city of Ellensburg is working with an outside consultant supplied by its insurance carrier to determine how access was gained during a ransomware cyberattack in December of 2020.

Ellensburg joined the growing list of government agencies and institutions paralyzed by a ransomware attack. The city has also been working with local and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate the matter.

“We’re still working through it, but I don’t believe anything was stolen,” Mayor Bruce Tabb said. “It seemed like it was just an encryption, but there is still work being done and we’ll know more as we go through it.”

If ransomware cyberattacks produce a transgress of consumer data or a data leak, then there may be additional actions that clients should take to protect their digital identity, according to reports. Data breaches, hacks, and leaks often lead to and cause identity theft, account read overs, ransomware, spyware, extortion and malware.

Account takeovers are often caused by credential reuse, watchword reuse, easily guessed passwords, and are facilitated by the sharing of billions of credentials and other customer information through data leaks, as the direct resultant of data breaches and hacks.

It was confirmed that the attack was ransomware, which rendered most city data and network drives inaccessible for a period of time, Tabb said.

“It was like whatever they did was changing the passwords or the code, so when you tried to access a file it read as if nothing was there,” he said. “It’s not clear what all was involved or what all was intended. Our outside consultant is working with us to provide preventative measures so that it does not happen again.”

All city departments are impacted by the attack, including administrative and financial services, and the city’s utility billing system.

“It did affect us for a short period of time. It took the better half of a day to get payroll and utilities back up and running,” City Manager John Akers said. “I don’t have the specifics as to what all it did, but we’re going to review the way we handle things and improve our system so we can stay out in front of it.”

According to iFIBER One News, the Moses Lake School District was a victim of a similar ransomware attack in July of 2019.


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