During a Zoom press conference today, Grass Valley city leaders remained relatively tight-lipped about the compromise of their information systems (IS) infrastructure. What emerged was an acknowledgment that data was accessed and copied by parties unknown, not your typical ransomware attack.

Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard and City Attorney Michael Colantuono answered the bulk of media questions. Mayor Ben Aguilar and City Manager Tim Kiser, with support staff, were also on the call.

Credit report monitoring

Grass Valley will, once forensic investigations are completed, reach out to people or businesses whose data was accessed and offer credit report monitoring. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies were notified and are assisting/conducting investigation and assisted in providing continuity of service. The breach happened a month ago.

The copied data allegedly contains information on people or businesses that had interactions with various Grass Valley systems, including law enforcement. Officials hastened to add the city’s systems were not locked or encrypted by the attackers, only some data was copied.

Officials stressed the city’s systems are up and running and service disruptions were minimal. The city took several services offline to reinforce cyber protections and institute new protocols, presumably with the help of other agencies or consultants.

Details of what exactly was compromised won’t be disclosed to discourage copycats, officials said. Grass Valley agreed to pay a ransom to prevent data to be released in the wild. The cost of the incident is covered by the city’s insurance, according to an earlier press release and statements during the news conference.

Grass Valley canceled a contract with Nevada County and moved their IS infrastructure inhouse a few years ago. According to Gammelgard, the city recently hired a new consultant with a focus on cyber security.

A growing trend

Grass Valley is not the only local municipality or agency having to deal with this type of cyber attack. Sierra College was affected earlier this year, others are dealing with similar issues.

City officials are reminding people to regularly check their credit score and beware of identity theft. That is certainly good advice, as are backing up data either offsite or on air gapped (not connected to a network or the internet) devices.