Mark Warner calls for improved cyber defenses to protect schools

After high-profile ransomware attacks this year, Senator Mark Warner and Senator Susan Collins have called for school districts to improve cyber defenses.

WASHINGTON — WSSC Water, which serves almost 2 million residents in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, announced on Friday that it was a victim of a ransomware attack in late May that targeted “non-essential business systems.”

The cyberattack occurred on May 24 but the company said drinking water and wastewater systems were not impacted or ever at risk.

In a statement, WSSC Water Police and Homeland Security Director David McDonough said the virus was successfully removed and the company did not pay any ransom to the hackers.

“These attacks have become more common, especially in recent weeks, and WSSC Water has prepared for this type of event,” he wrote.

The company added that files were restored from back-ups and there was no significant impact on business operations, however, some customers may be notified about potential breaches.

“While the virus was not successful, it appears the ransomware criminals did gain access to internal files,” the statement read. “As the investigation continues, WSSC Water will notify in writing any individuals whose personal identifying information was exposed. Those individuals will be offered five years of credit monitoring with $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance at no cost to them.”

The announcement of the WSSC Water cyberattack came after highly publicized breaches against Colonial Pipeline and JBS Holdings earlier this year.

Both companies were forced to pay millions of dollars to the hackers to get control of their systems back.