Prison fence, cameras (symbol image)
Photo: PHILIPP GUELLAND / EPA
A cyber attack paralyzed a prison in the United States - and locked the inmates in even more than they already were.
According to court documents (PDF), the security cameras and the automatic door system of the detention center in the Bernalillo district in the US state of New Mexico, in which the city of Albuquerque is located, were shut down last week.
At times, the doors of the prison cells could only be opened and locked manually.
The court ruling last Thursday said that the lack of camera surveillance represents a "significant security risk for the staff and inmates when they are outside the cells."
Therefore, after the cyber attack on January 5th, a temporary lockdown was imposed on the institution.
Since then, the prisoners are only allowed to stay in their cells and only leave them for medical care.
In addition, they are no longer allowed to receive visitors.
Authorities are working in emergency mode
In addition to the prison, the unknown perpetrators also paralyzed other public facilities in the US district.
A message from Monday said that the administration was unable to carry out marriage certificates, voter registrations and real estate transactions because of "cyber problems".
The cause of the computer problems is therefore a so-called ransomware attack, i.e. an attack with ransomware.
The attackers encrypt the hard drives of computers and demand a ransom for their release.
When asked who was behind the attack and how long it would take to fix the problems, the administration was at a loss in a FAQ about the incident: “We don't know” and “We can't comment on the investigation and / or not jeopardize recovery efforts. ”I regret the inconvenience.
The cost to the victims increases
According to a survey by the IT security company Sophos (PDF), the number of reported ransomware attacks has decreased in the past year.
According to this, in 2021 37 of the 5400 organizations surveyed were still victims of cyber attacks in which data was encrypted.
A year earlier it was 51 percent.
On average, the affected organizations and companies paid the blackmailers $ 170,000 to buy their data free.
The total average amount of damage, for example due to production downtimes or recovery costs, rose from $ 760,000 in 2020 to $ 1.85 million in 2021. Despite these expenses, according to the Sophos survey, those affected were only able to save an average of 65 percent of the encrypted data.
A particularly high-profile case was a large-scale cyberattack on the largest gasoline pipeline in the United States in 2021, which resulted in delivery bottlenecks at gas stations on the east coast.
According to the US government, the DarkSide group suspected in Russia was responsible for this attack.
The US State Department offered a reward of up to ten million dollars for information that would help identify or track down leading figures in this group of hackers (read more here).
mak / AFP