Alessandra Young and D.V. Wise
SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – It’s been weeks since Spartanburg County fell victim to a ransomware attack. Even though some things are working again, not everything is back to normal. 7NEWS tried to find some answers to questions you have been asking.
The FBI confirmed they are investigating the ransomware attack on the county. There are a lot of questions that we don’t yet have the answers to, because county leaders said they cannot talk until the investigation is over.
The ransomware attack happened on Thursday, April 27. County officials still can’t say how it happened or who is behind it. 7NEWS spoke with a tech expert to explain what a ransomware attack is.
“Basically, he’s telling you, I need you to send me some cryptocurrency, because they’re hoping that it can’t be traced. Possibly going to a foreign country, the idea is we want your money, but we don’t want to get caught taking it,” said Paul Yanov, founder of Tech After Five.
Yanov said ransomware attacks can happen through an email, chat message or download. What happens, is a piece of software can then encrypt data in a computer’s hard drive.
“That would be like someone coming in and rearranging all the furniture in your house and telling you, I’m not going to tell you where it is or how to get to it,” he said “In fact, you can’t figure it out without me, you need they key.”
Yanov said you may not know how deep the attack goes or what it will affect.
“You’ve got to figure out how to get rid of it, so there’s specialty software that will go through and maybe strip that off,” said Yanov. “Maybe you end up having to restore from backups, but you definitely both want to get your data back, your back to your data integrity, figure out what you’ve missed in the middle of all this.”
Coroner for Spartanburg County, Rusty Clevenger, said his office was lucky and didn’t get the worst of the attack.
“We have redundant systems on our computers. Has it slowed us down? Maybe two hours, initially, until we swapped systems, but we never were affected as far as our ability to answer the calls, the families that need us the most,” said Clevenger. “We were able to document the information, just like we did before.”
The county’s website has a list of alternate numbers for departments that have been hard to reach.
Spartanburg County sent out a statement saying:
“All essential services continue to operate, including 911 operations and emergency operations. We will keep the community informed as we have further updates and express our ongoing gratitude for the continued patience and support.”
Yanov said the key is to get rid of the bad software and it can be a complicated process, depending on how extensive the attack was to begin with. He said a helpful tool to try a prevent a ransomware attack from happening is to use two-factor authentication.
The City of Augusta is dealing with a similar situation.
Mayor Garnett Johnson confirmed the cyber attack on May 23rd.
Both the Tax Commissioners Office and Augusta Animal Services are affected, as well as several other city offices.
No word on when things will return to normal in either county.