Bucks County Battles ‘Akira’ Ransomware: A Tale of Resilience | #ransomware | #cybercrime

On January 21, the heart of Bucks County’s critical emergency infrastructure, the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system was brought to a grinding halt. The culprit? A cyber attack, orchestrated by a group brandishing the ransomware ‘Akira’.

Amid the ensuing chaos, emergency dispatchers reverted to analog methods, relying on pen and paper to record vital details from 911 callers, while the digital arteries of their system lay paralyzed.

The Battle Against ‘Akira’

The county authorities refused to bow to the demands of the cyber adversaries. Not a cent of ransom was paid to their digital assailants. Instead, the county drew on their internal resources, alongside various external agencies and cybersecurity experts, to counter the onslaught.

The collective response was swift and effective: within nine days, the CAD system was fully restored, re-establishing the digital lifeline for emergency dispatch operations.

Mitigation and Future Defence

In the aftermath of the attack, Bucks County took decisive steps towards bolstering its cybersecurity defences. The county commissioners greenlit a hefty sum of $375,000 for securing the services of CRA International Inc., a cybersecurity firm, until January 2027.

This expenditure is anticipated to be reimbursed through insurance coverage. In addition, the legal firm DLA Piper LLP was enlisted for legal services, at an hourly rate of $1,000 plus additional expenses.

Investigations and Outcomes

The forensic investigation, undertaken to assess the potential data exposure, has so far found no evidence of data extraction from the compromised CAD system. Although an arrest is yet to be disclosed by the county, the incident continues to be probed by county, state, and federal authorities.

It’s important to note that this cyber attack is distinct from another recent assault on the Pennsylvania Courts, painting a distressing picture of escalating cyber threats targeting public institutions.

Despite the ordeal, Bucks County has emerged resilient, with its emergency services staff and partner agencies commended for their unfaltering commitment to restoring the system, ensuring that the county’s emergency response remained undeterred.

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