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DCN hacked by national ransomware gang, customers not affected

Photo courtesy: Dakota Carrier Network
Photo courtesy: Dakota Carrier Network(KFYR)
Published: May. 6, 2020 at 4:11 PM CDT
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The Dakota Carrier Network that supports state and local government entities fell victim to recent a ransomware attack.

Dakota Carrier Network is the state’s largest fiberoptic network. The system is shared by the state government and nearly 400 public entities including county government, schools, and university systems.

Two weeks ago, DCN systems were hacked, and money was demanded in order for the company to recover servers and information.

However, the CEO of DCN told Your News Leader they're not negotiating with criminals.

The hacking was traced back to an email opened by a DCN employee.

"We've been working over the past week to make sure that, not only do we restore all of our systems, which is the positive in this that we were able to do that, but to identify and make sure that the cyber security attackers were still not able to get into any of our data, " said Seth Arndorfer, CEO of DCN.

Hackers from the nationally known Maze ransomware gang targeted information from DCN's customer network. Because they refused to pay the ransom, hackers published stolen information from DCN online.

"We determined that no customer data that resides on our network was impacted. It was really just DCN's administrative data, like our in-voicing systems or circuit inventory system and our network management tools that that we use to monitor the utilization of internet bandwidth in the state," said Arndorfer.

The hackers demanded money from DCN in return for the stolen data.

"The negotiation wasn't can we get our data back, it was, can we keep it off the internet?" said Arndorfer

Cyber security experts say the hackings are target at essential businesses during the pandemic.

"Disabling the Dakota Carrier Network and all of the hosted networks inside of it. If they disable the ability to work remotely by shutting down reliable communication during COVID-19 pandemic they may be even more likely to pay the ransom," said Kierk Sanderlin, an engineer for Check Point Software.

DCN has not disclosed the ransom amount being demanded.

DCN said it’s working with the FBI, Homeland Security, and state cyber security team to make sure customer data is not impacted in the future by these hackers.

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