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Ransomware Hits Democratic State Senators of Pennsylvania

 

A ransomware attacked the Pennysylvania Senate Caucus which caused locking of 16 Democratic senators and their staff members out of their computer network.

 

On Friday morning, this attack was discovered. The site was still down and showed an "error establishing a database connection" at the time of publishing on Sunday. Networkworld.com posted on March 5th, 2017, stating that the same error shows if you try to visit website of each Democratic senator.

 

According to statements made to NBC, the politicians have been locked out of their computer network at the state Senate since early morning on Friday. The democrats are working with Microsoft and law enforcement agencies to resolve the problem. It is not known that how much payment the hackers were asking or the nature of the attack. Also, hackers have not announced their motive and so it might just be a standard malware attack and not any politically motivated.

 

A ransomware attack is normally expected to steal sensitive information in trying to extract money, often in digital currency, in lieu of return of data. A spokeswoman of FBI did not immediately return messages in search of comment. Tom Wolf, a spokesman of Democrat Gov. says that the attack has not affected the networks of the state which are different than the computers of Senate Democrat.

 

As per Stacey Witalec, Press Secretary of Costa, the network provides computer services such as email access, web hosting and file storage for all 16 Democratic senators and their employees. The website of Caucus remained down along with individual websites of all 16 state senators as on Saturday evening. However, websites of Democratic members of Pennsylvania House of representatives remained accessible on Saturday.

 

Costa issued a statement stating that there is no sign of compromising of data or targeting any system of Democrat.

 

The statement reveals that the Ransomware encrypts data on an infected system and demands users to pay ransom amount in Bitcoin, which is a digital currency, in order to get a decryption key to access the network and data. When Witalec was asked about payment of ransom by anyone, he said that it is being investigated. A spokesperson of Pennsylvania Democrats refused to tell NBC news whether that was possible in this case or whether the attackers had announced any motives.

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