Maryland water company investigating ransomware attack

Overhead photograph of a water treatment plant
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WSSC Water, a water company in Maryland, is investigating a ransomware attack that hit parts of its business in May.

According to reports from WJZ13 Baltimore, the attack happened on May 24, and the company removed the malware just hours later. According to WSSC Water, criminals accessed internal files but did not affect water quality.

“WSSC Water continues to produce and deliver safe, clean water to 1.8 million customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and at no time was the quality or reliability of our drinking water in jeopardy,” WSSC Water Police and Homeland Security Director David McDonough said in a statement.

WSSC said systems that operate its filtration and wastewater treatment plants are, by design, standalone networks and not connected to the internet. According to a statement on its website, WSSC Water also restored files from backups, and there was no significant impact on business operations.

McDonough added that such attacks have become more common, especially in recent weeks, and WSSC Water has prepared for this type of event. With an investigation underway, WSSC Water has notified the FBI, Maryland Attorney General, and state and local homeland security officials and will cooperate with any investigation.


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WSSC Water expects its investigation to take several weeks. Should the investigation unearth any evidence of personal information exposure, WSSC Water said it would offer affected people five years of credit monitoring with $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance at no cost.

WSSC has encouraged its customers to remain vigilant and closely examine their financial statements and report anything suspicious to their bank or card issuer. Individuals can also access to report any suspicious activity and to learn how to freeze their credit.

Last week, IT Pro reported that the City of Tulsa warned residents that the hackers behind a ransomware attack on its systems in May have shared sensitive files on the dark web. Over 18,000 files on the dark web were “mostly in the form of police citations and internal department files.” The city advised anyone who had filed a police report, received a police citation, made a payment within the city, or interacted with the city in any way to take precautions.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.