On January 7, at 4:30 a.m., the website and several city services were taken offline by a ransomware attack, which local press have speculated came from an phishing attack over email. A little over 24 hours later, the City of Las Vegas has returned to normal, almost like the attack never took place. The City of Las Vegas tweeted: “Following yesterday’s cyber compromise, we have resumed full operations with all data systems functioning as normal. Thanks to our software security systems and fast action by our IT staff, we were fortunate to avoid what had the potential to be a devastating situation.” A follow-up tweet reassured followers that no data was lost and no personal data taken.
With more than 45 million visitors a year and over 2.1 million residents, the City of Las Vegas moved to Rubrik because it met their needs for flexibility, price, and speed. Lester Lewis, Deputy IT Director, said about their decision to use Rubrik over other services: “Rubrik is a very important partner in how we do business now because we made the decision to be a smart city and collect all this data, so we had to make a decision to protect all the data.”
The decision that they made to protect their data paid off. Because they switched to Rubrik, the City of Las Vegas was able to restore quickly and prevent any down time of critical services.
Ransomware has become the plague of the last decade, and is looking like it will be continuing to be an issue into the next. Each year, ransomware attacks cost businesses $75 billion (source: Datto). Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the users data on the computer that it has infected and holds the data hostage until the users pays whoever is responsible for the malware in exchange for the encryption key. Ransomware can be close to impossible to decrypt without the key and even if the user pays the ransom demand, it is not guaranteed that they will get all of their data back. If the user does not pay the ransom demand, the encryption key is deleted, and if the user doesn’t have any other technology in place, the data is lost forever.
A month earlier, the Pittsburg Unified School District was also subject to a ransomware attack. However, they were not prepared, and consequently were unable to get services back in time for school to start weeks after the attack. The school district welcomed their students back without any laptops or internet. School emails were not accessible, so the school resulted to only using phones.
Pittsburgs Unified School District is not the only organization to be affected. Baltimore City government was hit with a ransomware attack in 2019, with estimated losses at $18 million. Other cities like New Orleans, New York City, Riviera Beach, and at least 85 others were also subject to ransomware attacks and suffered losses in 2019.