ST. CLAIR COUNTY (KMOV.com) – St. Clair County websites appear to be back online following a suspected ransomware attack.

Since at least last Friday, the website www.co.st-clair.il.us was made unavailable to the public after a ransomware group calling itself Grief claimed it targeted the county and several other organizations, according to the Belleville News Democrat. The county said the websites were taken offline for protection. The cyberattack has been disrupting county operation from its courts, the health departments and the jails.

The county has been tight-lipped about what happened with the suspected hack. News 4 confirmed the hacker attack through a local cybersecurity agency. They were able to find the hackers showcasing their work on the dark web.

"We run through hundreds of incidents a week and constantly are running calls in related to incident response and unfortunately, a large majority of those are city and local governments," said Jonathan with Spear Tip Cyber Counterintelligence.

One woman says her family member can't get out of the St. Clair County Jail due to the website hack.

"He's been in this bonding area with the same clothes on and all that since Sunday. We have the money to bond him out and they say since the system is down, We can't do anything. Can't bond him out, can't do anything," said the woman.

This comes as the world’s largest meat processor works to get back up and running after a ransomware attack closed 13 of its plants. In that case, JBS reported being threatened to pay an undisclosed amount of money or private information would be leaked. A Russian-based group is the prime suspect in the attack. Last month, the nation’s largest fuel pipeline was shut after an attack, which triggered fuel shortages and panic buying.

With an uptick of ransomware attacks, News 4 consulted with a local cyber expert who said the attacks are becoming more common because they’re easy to commit and the criminals behind them are rarely prosecuted.

“They go after the targets who make the most money, so if they find a business, businesses are always going to be able to have more money available than the average person, so the person at home doesn't have to worry about this so much, although their business laptop is what's used to get into the business,” said Scott Granneman with Webster University.

Granneman said work from home setups have made businesses more vulnerable to being hacked. He stressed that as more personal information is saved online it’s important to keep computer security updated. He also said not to click on links in strange emails because that could be a hacker’s way in.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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