The city of Las Vegas is licking its wounds after suffering a cyber-attack on its computer network.
It is not yet known whether any sensitive information was compromised in the incident, which took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
City spokesperson David Riggleman said that it was likely that the threat actors gained access to the city’s network via a malicious email.
Riggleman said that the city’s IT department moved fast to counter the invasion and stated that “the city is taking extensive steps to protect its systems.”
City officials were notified after unusual activity occurred at around 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, but by the evening the full extent of the damage wrought by the incident was yet to be confirmed. Riggleman said a clearer picture is likely to emerge over the next day or two.
According to Riggleman, the City of Lost Wages encounters an average of 279,000 attempts to breach its systems every month.
He observed: “A lot of people out there . . . are trying to open that cyber door.”
While Las Vegas works out who it was that managed to step over its digital threshold and what they got up to, city residents are likely to experience some disruption.
Riggleman said that the city’s emails may be affected by system analysts’ ongoing investigation into the breach. He expected any disruption, however, to be “minimal.”
If the breach turns out to be the latest in a string of ransomware attacks on US cities, then it is highly unlikely that Las Vegas will cough up the money. The city’s mayor, Carolyn Goodman, went on record in July as sponsor of a resolution not to pay ransoms in the event of a cybersecurity breach. The resolution was approved by the US Conference of Mayors.
Given the timing of the attack, some may wonder if it was launched by a vengeful Iran as retaliation for the recent killing of Iranian major general Qassem Suleimani.
Following the announcement of Suleimani’s death on January 2, the US Department of Homeland Security issued a warning for Americans to be on high alert for cyber-attacks coming from Iran.
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