Prague 3 Town Hall was hit with a computer virus on January 6 that disabled many of its services. The district administration posted the information on its Facebook page, which was unaffected. The problem was resolved early on January 7.
“Warning message: A computer virus got into several devices in the Prague 3 system. The system has been preventively disconnected. No email or data is available. Czech Point, cash registers and the registry office are out of operation. ID cards run in restricted mode. The defect has been reported to the National Cyber and Information Security Authority. Operation should resume tomorrow. Thank you for understanding,” the Facebook initial post said.
Several people responded by offering IT help, but district officials said they were already taking steps in line with National Cyber and Information Security Authority (NÚKIB) protocols.
A Facebook post shortly after 9 am the next day said the problem has been resolved. “We are happy to announce that the Prague 3 system has been renewed. All our services and offices are fully operational again,” they said. The post was accompanied by a photograph of fireworks.
The exact nature of the virus was not disclosed, but some people on social media speculated that it was ransomware, a type of malware that locks computer systems by encrypting the data until money is paid via cryptocurrency to an anonymous account.
A ransomware attack on December 11 shut down the computer systems at a hospital in Benešov, Central Bohemia. The attack caused many services including surgeries to be postponed, and some patients had to be relocated. Whether or not the hospital paid the ransom was not disclosed.
Once the problem at the hospital was resolved, new security procedures including new firewalls and anti-virus programs and were put in place.
Security firm Kaspersky said at the time that one-fifth of Czech hospitals had been hit with ransomware attacks in 2019.
Ramsomware and other types of malware can get into computer systems via fake software updates, visits to infected websites, spam email, and malicious downloads. Police agency Europol recommends not paying the ransom, as it gives funds to the criminals behind the attack and encourages more attacks.
Instead, they recommend backing up data often and using up-to-date anti-virus software.