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Public Defender's Office dealing with malware attack

Posted at 6:43 PM, Apr 08, 2021

FORT MYERS — The website for the 20th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office in Fort Myers was taken down after a malware attack.

The Office said it has a cyber security team working to get its servers back online. Public Defender Kathleen Smith tells us the malware attack happened late last week.

This is just the latest in what have now been three cyber attacks on public entities in our area in just the past two years.

Cyber security expert Evan Lutz at the company Cigent said it’s not clear what the office is dealing with.

"Malware can do just about anything under the sun that you can possibly imagine for a computer," said Lutz.

But even though it’s not clear what methods the cyber criminals used, Lutz said they’re usually after one thing.

"In most instances, I would say there is monetary incentive for malware infections," said Lutz.

Money was what a cyber criminal was after when they posed as a representative for the company renovating 8th St. S in Naples back in 2019. That criminal made off with $700,000.

In February of this year, a water plant in the City of Oldsmar was hacked, and the criminal remotely added chemicals to the water.

"That was, at least in part, due to a Team Viewer instance that was left open that somebody managed to compromise," said Lutz.

Lutz said, because cyber criminals are usually after money, they often target large organizations, but he said there’s a simple way to make sure your computer is as safe as possible.

"Make sure that you’re running your operating system updates regularly. Don’t keep clicking remind me later, remind me later, just do it now," said Lutz.

The Public Defender’s office didn’t give us a timeline for when its website will be back up and running, but its phone lines are still open, staff are still working, and it said the cyber security team is making "great progress."