Albuquerque impacted by ransomware attack on Bernalillo County government
Image: Gabriel Griego
Catalin Cimpanu January 6, 2022

Albuquerque impacted by ransomware attack on Bernalillo County government

Albuquerque impacted by ransomware attack on Bernalillo County government

County government buildings and public offices were closed on Wednesday across the cities of Albuquerque, Los Ranchos, and Tijeras after a ransomware attack crippled the IT network of the Bernalillo County government.

“The disruption likely occurred between Midnight and 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 5,” county officials said in a press release on Wednesday.

The attack has primarily cut off county employees from accessing local government databases, which has made working with the public impossible. All public offices of any sort have been closed down early Wednesday as a result.

IT systems and public offices are expected to remain closed throughout Thursday and the rest of the week as well, as officials deal with the cyberattack’s aftermath.

Public safety services, like the 911 call center, the Sheriff’s Office, and Fire and Rescue services are operating normally, taking calls and responding to emergencies, officials said.

Other services that don’t need constant access to government and citizen data are also operating using contingency plans, such as community centers, the Metropolitan Detention Center, Planning and Development Services (PDS), and the Behavioral Health department.

While all Bernalillo County websites are offline because of the ransomware attack, officials said that citizens could make tax payments via the Treasurer’s Office website, which uses a separate online portal.

Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico and the 32nd largest in the US.

It now joins a select list of US cities that have been hit by ransomware attacks, a list that also includes AtlantaBaltimoreDenverKnoxvilleNew Orleans, and Tulsa. The city of Las Vegas could have also joined the list, but its IT team narrowly avoided falling victim to an attack in January 2020.

Bernalillo County officials said they have taken offline any system that has been impacted by the ransomware attack and are now working with law enforcement to investigate and track down the culprits.

The name of the ransomware strain that has infected the county’s systems is currently unknown, along with other technical details such as how the attackers could have gained access to the county’s systems.

Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.