Trouble is brewing for Minnesota state even in the cyberworld. In the past few days, the state has seen massive protests and rampant destruction by protestors who are upset by the death of George Floyd in police custody. But now hackers have also started attacking the state’s digital assets. The Star Tribune reports that hackers forced the Minnesota State Senate website to go offline in a series of DoS cyberattacks targeting the state’s computer systems. Other websites also experienced outages due to cyberattacks. And many state agencies were targeted.
A denial of service (DoS) attack sends a high amount of traffic to a server, making it inaccessible and unresponsive to new requests.
The Star Tribune quoted Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman, who wrote an e-mail to staff that the Senate’s server was “hacked and accessed for several minutes” starting at 4:24 a.m. Tuesday.
The email said: To rectify the problem and prevent the spread of the attack Senate Information Technology employees “took down the server as a precaution” and are working with the Minnesota IT Services and the FBI to trace what was accessed.
The Senate Wi-Fi password was compromised but login information for senators and staff were not accessed. The Wi-Fi password has since been reset.
According to Ludeman, the same hacker group targeted 10 state agencies, including the governor’s office, in recent days.
City of Minneapolis websites also experienced outages due to a cyberattack early Thursday morning. A city spokeswoman said there was no evidence of a data breach and that most of the sites were back online by 9 a.m. that day.
It is yet to be determined whether these cyberattacks are directly linked to the protests fuelled by the death of George Floyd. But in a weekend news conference, Gov. Tim Walz said that “a very sophisticated denial-of-service attack on all state computers was executed” as the state readied its response to riots on Saturday.