Otsego County government, located in New York, suffered a security breach when hackers infiltrated systems by exploiting remote desktop servers
According to GovTech, international hackers used a remote desktop server, located in an employee’s home, to access the county’s networks. From there, hackers utilized all of the county’s resources to mine for crypto-currency, also known as crypto-jacking.
The issue was first identified in late September when the Otsego County systems were running incredibly slow. After an investigation, it was determined the issue was within the CPU usage. County officials contacted their software provider and appropriate adjustments were made which were believed to resolve the issue. All continued to run as it should, until Monday, October 15, 2018. It was then servers began populating alerts of a potential virus. In a few short hours, the IT staff was able to shut down the networks and stop the hackers’ malicious activity.
Since the attack, the Otsego County website has been put back online. However, all remote connections from employee homes remain disabled. County officials have stated they are working on implementing new technologies to securely enable these connections as quickly as possible.
It remains unclear exactly how long the hackers were using Otsego County’s networks for their processing power. The county’s head of IT, Brian Pokorny, stated that had the CPU usage not maxed out again after the tweaks by the software provider, the hackers likely could have gone on stealing their processing power for years without their knowledge.
An investigation has not found any evidence the financial or employee data held within the systems were compromised as a result of this cyber attack.
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