Cyber Crime

For the second time in two weeks CDOT shut down computers after a ransomware infection

For the second time in two weeks, the computers at the Colorado Department of Transportation Agency shut down 2,000 computers after a ransomware infection.

For the second time in a few days, a variant of the dreaded SamSam ransomware paralyzed the CDOT.

The second incident occurred while the agency was still in the process of recovering its systems from the first attack.

Exactly two weeks ago, the SamSam ransomware made the headlines because it infected over 2,000 computers at the Colorado Department of Transportation (DOT).

The investigation on the first wave of infections revealed that the infected systems were running Windows OS and McAfee anti-virus software.

“Eight days into a ransomware attack, state information technology officials detected more malicious activity on the Colorado Department of Transportation computer systems Thursday.” reads the post published on the website

“A spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology says this is a variation of the same ransomware that hit computers last week, when criminals demanded a Bitcoin payment in exchange for freeing up the software.”

Approximately 20% of the machines infected by the first wave of attacks had been restored when a variation of the original Samsam ransomware hit the Colorado Department of Transportation for the second time. All the infected systems were taken down once again.

“The variant of SamSam ransomware just keeps changing. The tools we have in place didn’t work. It’s ahead of our tools.” Brandi Simmons, a spokeswoman for the state’s Office of Information Technology, told the Denver Post.

The attack forced CDOT employees to stop using computers and input data using pen and paper.

According to CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford, the ransomware attack did not affect construction projects, signs, variable message boards and “critical traffic operations,”.

The Colorado National Guard and the FBI are working to restore normal operations.

“Employees have been ordered to shut off their computers until the source of the problem has been found. The network has been disconnected from the internet for now, and many employees are working on a pen and paper system.” continues the website.

At the time of writing, it is still impossible to evaluate the impact of the attack.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – CDOT, SamSam ransomware)

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Pierluigi Paganini

Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.

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