An “extremely sophisticated” ransomware attack has crippled the IT agency serving the Virginia General Assembly and shuttered the computer systems for Virginia’s legislative agencies.
The cyberattack has left officials in Richmond scrambling. Gov. Northam has directed executive branch agencies to assist the IT agency, officially known as the Division of Legislative Automated Systems (DLAS).
Ransomware is software used to gain unauthorized access to a computer system. Hackers have used it with increasing frequency to hold organizations or corporations’ sensitive data hostage unless the victim pays a ransom.
However, the attack against Virginia’s state legislature is the first of its kind.
Until the attack is resolved, lawmakers and their staff are unable to access critical systems, like the one that enables them to easily make requests to, draft and modify bills.
The Hill further reports:
The unnamed staffer said, “You can’t do anything with legislation right now,” and predicted that addressing the situation “will likely not be a quick fix.”
“This could potentially take a few days … trying to assess everything that is compromised and what isn’t,” the staffer added.
Virginia is working with the cybersecurity firm Mandiant to help handle the cyber breach. Company spokesperson Melanie Lombardi told The Hill on Tuesday that “Mandiant is working the incident response engagement.”
The breach comes one month before the General Assembly is set to begin its session, which is a busy time for legislators, the Post noted