Nov 6, 2021
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Town Negotiates Financial Recovery Plan After Cyberattack Drains Funds

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SecureWorld News recently covered the story of Peterborough, New Hampshire, and how a cyberattack resulted in the town accidentally giving away 15% of its annual budget. The town lost a total of $2.3 million.
Very little was known about the cyberattack at the time of reporting, and there are still many questions in the air.
Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, a local newspaper, provided an update about recouping the costs. Still, little was reported about the details of the cyber incident, including who the attackers are, how the attack happened, and the social engineering methods used to make the email look official.
With the investigation currently ongoing, few details may be available to the public, but Peterborough officials have made some headway in financial recovery.
In good news, Peterborough and ConVal School District were able to agree on a repayment plan for the losses.
The U.S. Secret Service reclaimed $594,331, an amount meant to fund a bridge project for the town.
Representatives for the town agreed to move money from a $3-million unrestricted funds balance for the remaining $1.7 million. Typically, this allotment is used when additional funds may be needed to complete a project after all other projects had been funded.
Peterborough has insurance through NH Primex. This provider covers issues related to public risk management. However, as of publication, it is still unclear how much the insurer will pay off for the damages or if any money will be repaid at all.
Though the type of cyberattack in Peterborough has not been revealed yet, from the details provided, this attack appears to be related to business email compromise (BEC).
This type of cybercrime continues to fleece organizations even though it lacks the sexy headlines of a ransomware attack.
SecureWorld hosted a webinar session by Matthew Alec Alvarado, Threat Intelligence Manager for Digital Shadows, who discussed the topic of ransomware in his presentation, Ransomware in 2021: 31 Leak Sites, 2,600 Victims.
Alvarado shared many details around the rise of ransomware in 2021, but one notable comment he made was the types of cyberattacks that fall in the shadows of ransomware.
“The redheaded stepchild behind ransomware, which doesn’t get talked about as much, is BEC, or business email compromise. If you look at the FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation] report, that [BEC] accounts for billions of dollars of revenue loss,” he said. 
Stephen Dougherty, a leading BEC investigator for the U.S. Secret Service, also told SecureWorld about his passion for bringing awareness to this specific type of cyberattack:
“This [BEC] is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. That’s one of my passions. I actually named the business email compromise desk here at the Global Operations Center for the Secret Service. So, I do really appreciate you guys listening, and I’m going to say this a lot: Please spread the word on this [issue]. A lot of people don’t know this exists, and that’s why we have so many victims.”
In addition to discussing BEC in depth with SecureWorld, Dougherty also mentioned BEC attacks were one of the biggest financial drains.
“Our [the Secret Service] major goal is to protect and secure the U.S. financial infrastructure and the U.S. economy. BEC is a huge drain on that, and a very big threat because of several different reasons,” said Dougherty. 
What new developments will arise from this case? SecureWorld News will continue to provide updates.
[RESOURCE] Did you know the Secret Service routinely plays a role in recovering funds from cyber incidents like ransomware? SecureWorld hosted Assistant Director Jeremy Sheridan on the podcast. Tune in and listen to his insights:
Most organizations will likely face a cyberattack, if the statistics are anything to go by. Register to attend SecureWorld’s Remote Sessions webcast, You’ve Been Breached. Now What?, and learn more about what to do if your organization is breached. Attendance is eligible for CPE credit.


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