Ransomware Attack in New Mexico: A ‘Gut-Check’ for Local Government Entities

Ransomware Strikes New Mexico

On January 5, 2022 between Midnight and 5:30 a.m. ransomware struck Bernalillo County in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal reported that the attack affected “a wide variety of county government operations. Most county buildings were closed” which halted many of the counties operations.

All Bernalillo County websites were offline as a result of the cyber attack which made working with the public very difficult, but most concerning was the way the county-operated jail was affected. Government officials were unable to access cameras which caused inmates to be temporarily limited to their cells. Inmates were also reduced in their access to telephones, tablets, and unable to have visitors. The facility was on lockdown for several days following the attack. 

Bernalillo County was not the first Ransomware attack on a local government entity and certainly will not be the last. These ransomware attacks are frequent and not only disrupt government services but can also compromise data and have significant impacts on local communities.

Ransomware Attacks Targeting Local Government Entities

According to The Washington Post, “in 2019, cybersecurity experts noticed a significant increase in ransomware attacks on municipalities, cities, and towns across the country and these attacks continue to trend upward. Cyber criminals target local governments because oftentimes these organizations have limited personnel, equipment, budget, and resources to devote to cybersecurity. 

The FBI has said concerning the matter that local government entities will continue to experience ransomware attacks. Especially as “deployment and targeting tactics evolve, further endangering public health, safety, and resulting in significant financial liabilities.”

Is your City/State/Municipality Prepared?

Months later, Bernalillo County continues to feel the effects of this ransomware attack. This devastating attack certainly serves as a gut check for other local government entities. Are you prepared to withstand a ransomware attack? Do you have a data backup strategy in place? Are your employees adequately informed and understand the risks/vulnerabilities?


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