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Joplin: City computer shutdown was ransomware attack

The insurer for Joplin paid $320,000 to an unknown person after a ransomware attack shut down the city government’s computer system last month, Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards said Thursday.

The money was paid to keep any sensitive information accessed by the attack from being exposed, Edwards said in a news release.

Investigations into who was responsible for the attack and what information was accessed is continuing, The Joplin Globe reported.

Computer servers and programs that operated the city’s online services were closed down on July 7. Joplin’s internet-based telephone system was restored two days later.

Cybersecurity firms hired to recover the city’s information technology systems have restored nearly every system needed to resume normal operations, including the city’s COVID-19 dashboard, online utility payments and court functions, Edwards said.

Services such as obtaining birth and death certificates and the graphic information systems (GIS) are not yet available.

An information technology forensics firm is working to determine what data might have been accessed, according to the statement.

Joplin officials will not disclose any further information about the breach to avoid exposing the city to future attacks, and the city is working to find technology to protect against future attacks.

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