KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas is continuing to investigate a mid-April attack on its computer systems that continues to cripple key services in the county, including the court system.
FOX4 learned Wednesday that the breach may be a ransomware attack — similar to others where the victims ultimately pay the attackers to free up their locked down systems. Victims are often faced with either paying high sums of money or losing access to their records and computers.
The UG said Thursday it has been working around the clock to comprehensively assess and remediate the recent cybersecurity attack.
On Wednesday, FOX4 asked leaders with the UG, if this security breach is a ransomware attack, as we’ve been told. However, county spokespeople refused to address the ransomware topic directly, saying only the effort to repair the trouble continues.
The UG said over the Easter holiday weekend, it discovered a cybersecurity attack to its data centers during routine maintenance of its systems. This did not impact online or cloud-based services such as the website as it targeted on-premise servers. Out of an abundance of caution, many UG servers were shut down to isolate the issue during an assessment of the impact.
“Until we have fully assessed the threat, we do not want to inadvertently expose our organization to further attacks,” the UG said.
“The rapid response of the Department of Technology Services quickly contained the attack,” the UG said in a news release Thursday afternoon. “Federal cybersecurity authorities were notified within hours of the attack’s discovery. The Unified Government brought in additional private sector cybersecurity resources to assist with preventing repeat attacks, identifying and removing any malicious software, and strengthening cybersecurity posture of the UG. No additional attacks have been identified since the April 16 event.”
The UG is expected to give an update during a news conference Friday afternoon.
Which services are affected in Wyandotte County?
The list of areas affected by this digital concern has grown slightly from last week. The list of affected areas now includes these Wyandotte County departments:
- Delinquent Real Estate
- District Attorney
- District Court
- Human Resources
- Motor Vehicles
- Neighborhood Resource Center
- Sheriff’s Office
The Appraiser’s Office is still holding appeals on all applications received prior to the April 14, 2022, deadline. However, currently no decisions are being made until the UG is able to fully finalize the full impact of the impacted services.
Attorneys have complained to FOX4 that precautionary computer system shutdowns at the county courthouse are limiting the ability to conduct speedy trials, which is a constitutional right. Many hearings are still being conducted via Zoom.
Jeff Shipley with Ravenii Cybersecurity in Kansas City said cyber attacks are up since the Ukraine-Russia war started, with 48% of those attacks pointed toward government entities since their IT departments are understaffed.
“They can ransomware, which is basically shutting your systems down so they’re not usable. So, you can imagine an entire city not being able to use any of their computer infrastructure, phone network, 911,” he said.
The UG said those in the community can check its website or call 311 for updates on services impacted.
The UG said it is actively working with the US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Mid-America Regional Council cybersecurity task force to determine what data, if any, may have been compromised.