JOPLIN, Mo. — This weekend marks one year since the ransomware attack on Joplin City Hall.
It caused a lot of problems at the time, and a lot of changes have happened since then to keep it from happening again.
They’ve gotten a lot accomplished since July 2021. Workers point to a serious overhaul of virtual city hall.
“I was probably more lax,” said Whitney Pachlhofer, Joplin City Worker.
Whitney Pachlhofer wasn’t trying to be risky, but says she knows so much more now.
“I’m always thinking about new passwords I can use now since we switch them up so often,” said Pachlhofer.
Tougher password protocols are just one part of the response to the 2021 city hall ransomware attack.
Virus and malware protection is also stronger. A new cybersecurity consultant called Ravenii operates a remote security operations center.
“That monitors that 24/7, 365. They alert us if, you know, someone’s opened a program that is not on our whitelist, they quarantine that till they check with us,” said Mark Morris, Joplin City IT Director.
All backups are now offsite and security patches happen automatically at the city’s 450 computers.
“So instead of being reactive, we’re being proactive. And that’s, that’s the only way we can stay ahead of things,” said Morris.
Extra protection is in place for sensitive personal information, now cloud-hosted.
“I think probably the biggest change was our day-to-day files, our Excel spreadsheets, our Word documents, all of that was contained here on servers. Now it’s in the cloud. So there are a few extra steps, obviously for them to get to those, but also for them to keep them secure,” said Morris.
And secure is the focus.
“We had a secure position then, we just have a more secure position now. Statistics tell us I think some 93% of all businesses and organizations have had some sort of penetration or attack on them,” said Morris.
The ransomware attack happened sometime between July 2nd and 6th, crashing internet, email, and phone services.
It led to a forensic investigation and the city’s cyber insurance paid $320,000 to prevent city data from being exposed.