ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Public Schools cyberattack comes about a week after the ransomware attack on Bernalillo County, shutting down its computer systems and halting most services. How can things like this be prevented? Are public entities at a disadvantage when it comes to defending against cyberattacks?
One cyber security expert has a theory as to why the county and school district might not have the resources or personnel to handle cyber and ransomware attacks. Raphael Warren is the owner of Spartan Cyber Security LLC. “The salaries and incentives in the IT world have skyrocketed. A good IT person can command salaries of some medical professionals and attorneys. I would suggest that the state municipalities hire everyone with all those credentials but they need to have a relationship with the kind of entities that can do that kind of sort of thing,” said Warren.
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Both Bernalillo County and APS are still working to resolve these recent attacks. A county spokesperson says the information technology team is working with third-party forensic experts to resolve the situation which started on January 5.
Since these are ongoing investigations, there is no way of knowing what information has been compromised but there are a number of reasons why a hacker might attack public entities. “For all we know, an attack in New Mexico could be intended to work its way to California; we won’t know that until we get to the bottom of the hack. How it occurred, review the forensics and then repair what’s been broken and that’s a very difficult thing,” said Warren.
Bernalillo County has notices online and at its headquarters letting visitors know which services are still closed. On Thursday, the county announced they have brought back some online services but many operations are still shut down including tax calculations, public records payments, and MDC booking.
Earlier this week, the county opened the lobby at Alvarado Square with minimal services available. County employees are also continuing to work remotely. No timetable has been given as to when employees will return to the building or all services will be restored.