Eight months after a ransomware attack on Suffolk County in Long Island, New York, officials are still scrambling to recover.

The attack, which occurred in early September 2022, led County Executive Steve Bellone to declare nine separate emergency declarations, the latest of which was enacted this month.

The continued state of emergency allows executives to issue no-bid contracts and hire staff without legislative approval, but critics believe it is no longer necessary and have introduced a resolution to terminate the declarations.

However, a spokesperson for the county has reportedly said that the state of emergency is still needed because certain functions, including remote public document searches, remain offline and require a complete overhaul.

County Officials Struggle to Find What Led to the Ransomware Attack

The fallout from the attack has resulted in mud-slinging among county leaders as they try to determine who is at fault.

Bellone and his team have placed much of the blame on the clerk’s office, suspending Suffolk County Clerk IT Director Peter Schlusser without pay in December.

The former clerk IT administrator is facing criticism for failing to update systems in decades, leading to vulnerabilities that may have enabled the attack.

Schlusser, on the other hand, claims he alerted Bellone’s IT team to potential intrusions months before the ransomware attack and even received an FBI warning about an active ransomware campaign being waged against the county shortly before the attack was discovered.

Despite calls to end the state of emergency, a post-breach report found 600 instances of malware on county systems that had gone undetected for years.

The incident has cost Suffolk County $5.4 million for investigation and restoration, and $12 million for new hardware and software.

Ransomware Attacks Leave Devastating Impact on Organizations

The prolonged recovery period highlights the devastating impact that ransomware attacks can have on organizations, particularly those that are unprepared or vulnerable to cyber threats.

Ransomware attacks are a type of malware where attackers breach networks to encrypt data, rendering it useless to the victim organization. The attackers then demand payment, usually in untraceable cryptocurrencies, to decrypt the data.

The impact of ransomware attacks is devastating to organizations, ranging from significant operational disruptions to huge financial losses and reputational damage.

Many businesses find themselves paralyzed, unable to complete mission-critical operations, and unable to function efficiently after a ransomware attack.

According to blockchain data platform Chainanalysis, ransomware revenue plummeted significantly in 2022 due to a growing unwillingness to pay.

In a report earlier this year, the company revealed that ransomware revenue dropped from $765.6 million in 2021 to at least $456.8 million in 2022.

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