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SACRAMENTO, May 9, 2018 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, working with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), uncovered more than two thousand computers and other electronic devices infected by malicious software (malware). Attorney General Becerra announced today that the California Department of Justice sent letters to communication service providers encouraging companies to inform customers with identified Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that their devices may contain the malware. The finding stems from a cyberattack that occurred in March 2018. Malware attacks involve the installation of unwelcome software without the user’s consent. The impacted devices receive and obey commands from an outside common source.

“We know that once a computer is infected with malware, the malware operators virtually own that device and can do most anything they want. That’s why it is critical that we continue to identify cybercrimes and take action against those who deploy malware,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today we took steps to identify one of these cyberattacks. We continue to analyze the malware and work to hold the attackers accountable.”

“This type of cyber-attack is a persistent approach for bad actors. Both hackers and organized crime entities use networks of compromised computers or ‘bots’ to transmit malware or to launch attacks to disrupt nearly any computer system, including critical infrastructure and our personal networks,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “The California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC) is working jointly with the Attorney General’s Office to identify these bad actors and their networks and get them shut down. We must continue preparing for and responding to cyber events with precision, and that requires a proactive approach.”

Malware attacks can lead to an outside source using someone’s device to send spam, steal data, place ransomware programs on computers, turn computer cameras or microphones on, or use the computer to store data.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to containing the spread, operation, and impact of cyberattacks and educating consumers in California about how best to protect themselves from cybercrime.

An example of the letters can be found here.