GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – On Friday morning, Germantown leaders learned that bad actors accessed the city’s servers.
“The attack was contained and has potentially impacted a limited number of internal, on-site servers,” Germantown leaders wrote in a news release.
“I’m sad and surprised, but not totally shocked,” said Susan Collins, who works in Germantown.
At this point, city leaders say they are still working to determine the extent of the attack. There was no early indication that taxpayer payment information had been leaked, according to the city.
The FBI is investigating the criminal side of the case.
“In this day and age, it’s nothing new,” said Tracena Springfield, who worries her information was leaked. “You just try to keep the systems as safe and secure as possible, but there’s always someone that can get past it.”
How does this happen?
As of Friday afternoon, the city of Germantown had not yet released the cause or source of the attack.
“Any kind of government institution is a primary target for attackers,” said Jeff Horton, the owner of One Points Solution Group.
He told FOX13 that bad actors are often able to gain access to organizations or businesses through email.
“Somebody gets a malicious email, clicks on a link, and then one system can be compromised,” Horton explained. “From there, an attacker can get into all kinds of other systems.”
“This is an epidemic,” said Melanie Suria, who manages an IT services firm that provides cybersecurity solutions for local and out-of-town businesses. “Having threat actors encroach on our businesses and consumers – it’s a real problem.”
Suria encourages all businesses, municipalities and organizations to increase their training for cybersecurity awareness and phishing.
“The threat actors are only getting more sophisticated,” she said. “The ransomware payouts are increasing.”
What should taxpayers do now?
While the city works to investigate just how much information has been shared with bad actors, Horton recommends that Germantown taxpayers change their passwords.
“Attackers will take this information and put it together with other information that they might have about the person,” he said.
Suria recommended that everyone implement multi-factor authentication and use extreme caution when clicking on links.
“There’s so much personal identifiable information in all of these systems, and that is extremely lucrative for hackers,” she said.
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