BlackCat/ALPHV Ransomware Gang Hits City of Lakewood

Incident Date:

February 22, 2023

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BlackCat/ALPHV Ransomware Gang Hits City of Lakewood


City of Lakewood




Lakewood, USA

California, USA

First Reported

February 22, 2023

Ransomware Attack on Washington State

SecurityWeek reports that the BlackCa/ALPHV ransomware gang has hit the City of Lakewood, Washington, with a ransomware attack that included the exfiltration of sensitive data, as well as a call to any impacted third parties to sue the city for any damages.

BlackCat/ALPHV, a Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) attack platform provider, has been around since at least November of 2021 and was involved in over 10 percent of reported ransomware attacks in 2022, according to estimates. Attacks leveraging BlackCat typically employ a double extortion strategy where sensitive data is first exfiltrated before the ransomware payload is delivered, as in the Washington State case - and the attackers threaten to leak the data should the ransom demand go unpaid. BlackCat attacks have also employed additional extortion methods like DDoS attacks to put more pressure on the victims to pay. BlackCat also claimed a recent attack against the Five Guys burger chain where sensitive data was also exfiltrated for double extortion.


Ransomware attacks are more than just disruptive malware infections. The exfiltration of sensitive data means that even with a robust cyber program and data backups to assist in recovery efforts, organizations face additional risk from the exposure of internal communications, trade secrets, R&D assets, and intellectual property. The impact of attacks like the alleged attack on Washington can also extend to partner organizations as the sensitive information is leveraged in other criminal acts.

It is also worth noting that, while some of the targets may seem somewhat random or less desirable, they were likely chosen for good reason. Five Guys, for example, is an obvious choice, as the company certainly has ample resources to pay a ransom. Combine that with the fact that they lose significant revenue for every second their systems are bricked and you have an attractive target. Contrast that with a cash-strapped small city, and one has to wonder why they were targeted. Chances are they were selected by way of automation, where the attackers are scanning the internet for organizations with detectable vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and other weaknesses in the network that can be exploited. So, while Five Guys were likely targeted deliberately, the city of Lakewood was probably chosen somewhat at random as a target of opportunity where the threat actors invested little time or resources.

Organizations of every size need to implement a strong prevention and resilience strategy to defend against ransomware attacks, including:

  • Keeping all software and operating systems up to date and patched
  • Assuring critical data is backed up offsite and protected from corruption in the case of a ransomware attack
  • Assure all endpoints are protected with an EPP solution like next-generation anti-virus (NGAV) software and an anti-ransomware solution
  • Implement network segmentation and Zero Trust policies
  • Implement an employee awareness program to educate against risky behaviors, phishing techniques, etc.
  • Plan and prepare for failure by running regular tabletop exercises and ensuring all stakeholders are ready and available to respond to an attack at all times is the industry’s first dedicated, adaptive security platform that combines multiple advanced proprietary prevention engines along with AI models focused specifically on stopping ransomware – talk to a Halcyon expert today to find out more.

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