An early clue that something was wrong with the computers at the New York City Department of Law – an agency of 1,000 attorneys representing the city in court – emerged Monday when an attorney for The department wrote a letter to a federal judge in Manhattan, asking for the delay in filing court papers because of “connection” issues.
“No one is currently able to log into the Code’s computer systems,” wrote the attorney, Katherine J. Weall.
Later in the day, city officials revealed the cause of the problem: They were forced to disable the Code’s computer network Sunday afternoon after detecting a cyberattack. That attack is currently being investigated by the New York Police Department’s intelligence office and the FBI’s Cyber Task Force, officials said.
The hack was first reported by The Daily News.
On Monday, it remained unclear who was behind the attack or what the hacker’s target was, according to a city official briefed on the incident. The official said the ransomware is commonly used by criminal groups and hackers affiliated with foreign governments. It’s also unclear whether the hackers had access to any sensitive information, the official noted. There is no ransom request.
City officials said they disconnected the Code computers from the city’s larger network Sunday afternoon.
The attack comes as the US government and businesses have raised alarms about recent ransomware attacks against targets such as critical gas pipelines, oil processing facilities, and gas processing facilities. world’s largest meat processing plant and police department in Washington, DC. The White House last week warned American businesses of an urgent need for security steps to protect against ransomware attacks, and in a published interview, Christopher A. Wray, FBI director, likened the ransomware threat to the threat posed by global terrorism following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Hackers use ransomware to break into government and private computer networks. Once inside, they can lock the owner or steal data used for ransom. The frequency of attacks has increased over the past few years, with many hackers targeting businesses, local governments and critical infrastructure.
Concerns about a possible attack first occurred on Saturday night, when the city’s Cyber Command detected unusual activity on the Code’s computer network, according to an official informed. about the case. The attack was discovered by the commander, a unit that Mayor Bill de Blasio created by executive order in 2017 to protect the city’s computer systems.
“As the investigation is still ongoing,” according to a City Hall statement, “the city has taken additional steps to maintain security, including restricting access to the Code’s network to this moment.”
Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the Code, said the agency is taking steps “to ensure there is minimal impact on cases” and to keep departmental functions moving forward.
The effect on other city agencies remained unclear as of Monday. “Until we understand the full scope of the violation, we are trying to move,” said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state court system, where the Code represents the city in lawsuits. cautiously.