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Cybersecurity expert gives insight into timing of attack on Unified Government data centers

UG building
Posted at 3:53 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 18:42:28-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The KSHB 41 I-Team is digging deeper into the timing behind a local cybersecurity attack.

It's been almost two months since that attack hit the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas on Easter weekend.

Based off their last update from a week ago, the UG is still working to restore some services.

A post on the UG's website said the attack happened during a routine maintenance of its systems.

Since that day, UG leaders have only spoken once through prepared statements. They've also been working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

"So, holiday weekends are absolutely a favorite of a number of the Russian ransom ware organizations," James Turgal said. "So, they plan it that way."

Turgal is a vice president at Optiv, which is a cybersecurity firm not connected to the case.

Turgal, who worked for the FBI for more than 20 years, said there are several ways a hacker can infiltrate a system.

"There's something called smishing, right, which is basically a scam that happens through SMS text," Turgal said. "There's farming, which are scams where they send you an email, you click on a link and it sends you to a fake website that installs malware."

Whether it was a ransomware attack on the UG is still unclear and we also don't know what the hackers were after.

Typically, Turgal says hackers are already in their target's systems for 200 days before they launch an attack.

"They're going to want to understand all of the topography of that network prior to launching the attack, because they want the attack to be as as big as possible," Turgal said.

The Unified Government's CEO and Mayor has talked about balancing transparency and the integrity of the investigation.

On Thursday, the 41 I-Team tried to get an update, but did not hear back.

The three questions we're trying to get answers to include:

  • What was the scope of the attack?
  • Was it a ransomware attack?
  • If it was, did the Unified Government pay and how much?

If and when we get those answers, we'll update this story.

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