WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - What was initially reported as a website ‘outage’ by Columbus County turns out to be something more sinister, a directed attack at the county’s web hosting service.
On Tuesday morning Columbus County’s website and email systems were offline, a post to the county’s Facebook account said it was an outage affecting both the website and email services. Later that day the county revealed that the company it uses for both services was hit with a ransonware attack.
“Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware typically spreads through phishing emails or by a victim unknowingly visiting an infected website,” according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The attack happened sometime on Monday, but was only reported to the public on Tuesday.
“On Nov. 16, the Managed.com environment was attacked by a coordinated ransomware campaign. To ensure the integrity of our customers' data, the limited number of impacted sites were immediately taken offline. Upon further investigation and out of an abundance of caution, we took down our entire system to ensure further customer sites were not compromised. Our Technology and Information Security teams are working diligently to eliminate the threat and restore our customers to full capacity,” according to Columbus County’s Facebook post.
“Our first priority is the safety and security of your data. We are working directly with law enforcement agencies to identify the entities involved in this attack. As more information is available, we will communicate directly with you,” it concludes.
It appears the attack was directed at the web hosting service, not Columbus County in particular.