News: Hennepin County responding to cyberattack

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Media contact: Carolyn Marinan, Communications, 612-348-5969

Hennepin County responding to cyberattack 

Attackers gained unlawful access to county email system

Hennepin County is responding to an ongoing cyberattack targeting employee email.

The sophisticated email cyberattack accessed employee email accounts by using credentials obtained through phishing emails that began arriving at the end of June. The attackers then sent malicious emails from those Hennepin County accounts using legitimate signature blocks.

The email accounts of approximately 20 county employees out of 9,300 total staff were compromised by the attackers. Hennepin County is evaluating the content of those compromised email accounts and assessing the extent to which private data may have been accessed. Some emails may contain private data about individuals to whom the county provides services.

“Like many organizations, we’re increasingly facing threats of phishing attacks,” said Jerome Driessen, the county’s chief information officer. “We’ve been aggressively responding to and monitoring activity since the first indication, and increased our efforts to protect staff this week.”

The county has also notified vendors with which it maintains a business relationship and referred the matter to the FBI for investigation. 

Hennepin County will complete its investigation of this incident and prepare a report pursuant to state law. Upon completion of the report, members of the public may view a copy of it on Instructions for requesting delivery of the report by mail or email will also be posted on the website.

“Hennepin County takes its responsibility to protect resident data very seriously,” Driessen said. “We continue ongoing employee training and education. We also continuously enhance IT security measures to prevent increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, and we hope this announcement can further dialogue about the increasing threats to all organizations’ cybersecurity.”

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