NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The state agency overseeing New Mexico’s insurance industry is fighting a crippling cyber-attack. The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance has been shut down all week because of the attack.
While the office is calling it a “cyber-attack,” News 13 has learned Superintendent of Insurance is dealing with “ransomware”. An IT service provider told us these kinds of attacks are a growing trend that are bound to happen to more government agencies.
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“It is hard to defend against because you have to be near perfect to secure a place. The tools, the processes and the behavior of the users have to be nearly flawless. Whereas an attacker needs to find a single vulnerability,” says Joshua Liberman, President of Net Sciences Inc.
The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance or “OSI” wouldn’t do an interview about the problem, but they said they’re working to get computers back online. News 13 has obtained information that the attackers are asking for around two million dollars in ransom to unlock the office’s data. A spokesperson for the Department of Information Technology did not confirm the ransom demand, saying there is no evidence of any data being taken and the attack is still under investigation.
OSI said it’s still trying to determine if any of the data in the attack was taken. An Albuquerque-area ransomware expert, Joshua Liberman said these attacks force agencies to constantly put employees on alert over what they click. “They know how much you can afford to pay and they know you’re going to try to negotiate should you choose to pay and they’re good at this…It will never be 100% possible to secure a network, business, or people, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try hard,” says Liberman.
Since the attack unfolded, OSI’s website, emails, and phones have been knocked offline. The OSI said they’re working with law enforcement, the state’s “Department of Information Technology” and a third-party forensic expert. They’re hoping to get the systems back running again early next week. News 13 has learned that federal authorities are helping work on the problem.