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Blow the House down: Ransomware hits Capitol Hill contractor

As further cyberattacks on U.S. businesses are announced, Biden’s Administration prepares for a cyber-war.

Investigators and researchers are still learning of the scope of the cyberattack which has hit US government agencies and other victims around the world - AFP
Investigators and researchers are still learning of the scope of the cyberattack which has hit US government agencies and other victims around the world - AFP

A company that provides a user engagement platform for U.S. politicians has suffered a ransomware attack, leaving many lawmakers unable to email their constituents for days. The attack, which hit DC-based iConstituent, has affected the offices of nearly 60 U.S. lawmakers across both parties (plus officials and office aides), Gizmodo has reported.

Besides House offices, iConstituent also provides services to state officials, which are also most likely impacted by the recent incident.

Following the cyberattack, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio (Republican) expressed the view that news of the incident demonstrates the breadth of entities vulnerable to such attacks.

“Just this morning, news broke that a constituent outreach services platform that nearly 60 offices in the United States Congress, the House of Representatives, uses was hit with a ransomware attack,” Portman uttered. “As I’ve said before, no one is safe from these attacks including us.”

Commenting on the issue for Digital Journal is Gary Ogasawara, CTO, Cloudian. He explains that this issue is another example of the ransomware assault upon powerful institutions, noting: “Ransomware attacks on government infrastructure are becoming prevalent. For government agencies, not only must data be protected and kept out of the hands of threat actors, but keeping networks up and running is crucial.”

As to how protection can be ensured, Ogasawara  recommends: “Ransomware-proof data protection at the storage level can safeguard your data while also helping restore operations in a timely manner. Enterprises can achieve this by keeping an immutable copy of backup data to prevent cybercriminals from encrypting or deleting files.”

In doing so, Ogasawara says: “This means hackers won’t be able to access sensitive information, and organizations can operate confidently in the face of this heightened security threat.”

This attack is one in a series of hacks that have hit major U.S. businesses hard. Those impacted include Colonial Pipeline and global meat supplier JBS.

The spate of attacks has led the Biden Administration to urge private companies to safeguard themselves against ransomware attacks. In an open letter, White House administrators describe how “the private sector has a distinct and key responsibility,” in buffing the country’s cyberattack response.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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