author photo
By Bruce Sussman
Fri | Mar 13, 2020 | 8:35 AM PDT

Imagine working at a public health district right now.

You're seeing record traffic to your website as people look for answers about local coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

People are urgently seeking information on local states of emergency and options for coronavirus testing.

And that is precisely when a cyberattack forces you to post this message on your organization's Facebook page:


Ransomware attack brings down health department website

That was a real message from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, which serves more than 200,000 people, including students and faculty at the University of Illinois. 

Hackers forced the website offline as the world faces a pandemic.

Mother Jones confirmed more details:

"Julie Pryde, the chief administrator for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said Wednesday that the agency's website went down Tuesday morning and that, within a few hours, her staffers and an outside contractor had determined it to be the result of a ransomware attack. Officials at the Illinois State Police and the local FBI office cannot yet confirm whether they are involved in any investigation."

There is no indication of whether the health district paid a ransom, however, the spokesperson said at the time of the attack that the district had a "robust" continuity plan.

Perhaps that is why the district was able to post this announcement 48 hours after the incident:


And as the pandemic evolves, those served by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District now have a lifeline to local information, online:


This is another example of how the cyber world impacts the real world.

[RELATED: Coronavirus Risk and Cybersecurity]

[RESOURCE: SecureWorld Web Conferences]

Tags: Ransomware,