Cleveland Attack Highlights Ransomware Threat for Local Governments

Written by
Published on
Jun 26, 2024

The city of Cleveland has recently been the target of a significant ransomware attack, resulting in the closure of City Hall and its satellite offices at the Erieview complex.  

This incident has exposed the pressing threat of ransomware to municipal entities and the broader implications for cybersecurity in state and local governments.

The Incident at Cleveland City Hall

On June 10, 2024, Cleveland officials announced that a "cyber incident" forced the shutdown of City Hall and its satellite offices. While the city has been tight-lipped about the specifics of the attack, the immediate response included taking several internal systems offline as a precaution.  

City officials confirmed that emergency services, airports, and utilities were not affected and continued to operate normally. However, all other internal systems and software platforms were shut down to prevent further damage and to investigate the extent of the breach.

Officials have since confirmed that the city is the victim of a ransomware attack. Mayor Justin Bibb's office emphasized the seriousness of the cyber threat and stated that affected systems would remain offline until a comprehensive understanding of the situation was achieved. The city's IT staff are working diligently to restore services and mitigate any potential data loss or further security breaches.

The Threat of Ransomware

Ransomware attacks have become one of the most significant cyber threats facing organizations today. The Cleveland incident is a stark reminder of how vulnerable municipal entities are to such threats.

According to our quarterly Power Rankings: Ransomware Malicious Quartile report report, 75% of organizations reported being targeted by at least one ransomware attack in 2023, with 26% facing multiple attacks. The report also highlights that ransomware attacks surged by 55.5% year-over-year, with payments to ransomware operators exceeding $1 billion in 2023.  

Although there was a reported 20% decrease in ransomware attacks in the first quarter of 2024, incidents like the one in Cleveland demonstrate that the threat remains persistent and dangerous.

Impact on State and Local Governments

State and local governments, including municipal entities like Cleveland, are particularly attractive targets for ransomware attacks. These organizations often manage critical infrastructure and sensitive data but may lack the robust cybersecurity defenses found in larger enterprises.  

The consequences of such attacks can be severe, leading to disruptions in essential services, financial losses, and compromised sensitive information.

The Halcyon report underscores the significant impact of ransomware on public sector organizations, citing notable examples such as the attack on the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and various healthcare facilities. These incidents highlight the widespread disruption that ransomware can cause, emphasizing the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures across all levels of government.

Call to Action

The ransomware attack on Cleveland City Hall highlights the need for municipal and state entities to reassess their cybersecurity strategies. It is crucial for these organizations to invest in robust security measures, employee training, and incident response planning to mitigate the risk of future attacks.

For a more comprehensive understanding of the current ransomware landscape and to learn about effective defense strategies, download and review the most recent quarterly ransomware report from Halcyon. Staying informed and prepared is essential in the ongoing battle against cyber threats.

By taking proactive steps and staying informed, we can better protect our communities and essential services from the ever-evolving threat of ransomware.

Check out the Power Rankings: Ransomware Malicious Quartile Q1-2024 here. is the leading anti-ransomware company. Global 2000 companies rely on the Halcyon platform defeat ransomware with minimal business disruption through built-in bypass and evasion protection, key material capture, automated decryption, and data exfiltration and extortion prevention – talk to a Halcyon expert today to find out more. Halcyon also publishes a quarterly RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) and extortion group reference guide, Power Rankings: Ransomware Malicious Quartile, and check out the Recent Ransomware Attacks resource site.

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