SOUTHERN MARYLAND — Hackers launched an international cyberattack on July 2 against thousands of businesses globally, and it has affected two Southern Maryland towns. This ransomware attack has completely shut down the network servers in the Towns of Leonardtown and North Beach.

For those who do not know, ransomware attacks are technological attacks where the perpetrators demand monetary payments, often in exchange for not releasing stolen information to the dark web.

“A message pulled out about our firewalls and disappeared. Then, all our files disappeared. We could not get into any of our files on our computers,” Leonardtown administrator Laschelle McKay said.

Later in the day, IT providers found that the attack originated through the third-party software, Kaseya. Kaseya is installed on 40,000 networks, so many companies globally have recently reported major IT issues. But, this third-party software attacked these Southern Maryland towns through the intermediary provider JustTech.

“Kaseya is the company that provides services to our provider, JustTech, which is a local company. We do not deal with Kaseya. We deal with JustTech since they are our IT provider,” McKay said.

JustTech is a vital part of the small governments in Southern Maryland because they provide all the requisite IT services any government agency needs.

“As a small government, we do not have our own IT department, so they [JustTech] manage all of our IT. They do backups of our system. They keep our systems running,” McKay explained.

Even though many lost access to their files, there is no sign that hackers stole any vital information because this is only a common ransomware attack. There will not be any information being released to the dark web because they are locking away the files, not stealing them.

“It’s a common ransomware attack. They are not trying to steal data. They just put in ransomware to encrypt all the files, so you can not use them. Then, they try to get you to pay the ransom.”

Currently, the attackers are requesting $45,000 per computer in Leonardtown, but the ransom has varied based on the size of the business, according to McKay. However, neither Leonardtown nor North Beach has shown severe damage to their water systems, phone systems, backup servers and websites.

After the backup servers are imported, JustTech will wipe every computer and rebuild the security system. North Beach expects to have its servers restored in about a week. Meanwhile, Leonardtown does not have a timetable for their servers, but they say they have a solution that does not involve paying the ransom.

Although JustTech is in La Plata, no other Southern Maryland towns have reported a ransomware attack. The Towns of La Plata, Indian Head and Chesapeake Beach have confirmed they are open and fully operational.

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