State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
State House Sound Bites Podcast: NPR | iTunes | Google Play

Ransomware attack locks PA Senate Dems out of computers

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 3, 2017 9:09 PM

Spokespeople had to text out photos of press releases while their computers were down. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania's entire Senate Democratic Caucus is locked out of its computer system.

An automatic alert went out across the Senate Democrats' IT network when it detected malware on the system early Friday morning. By the time lawmakers and staffers got to the Capitol, their computers were essentially unusable.

The offices remained open, with employees making do as best they could. Spokespeople resorted to individually texting out press releases on the attack to reporters.

They have little choice. All their data and computer systems are essentially being held hostage by malware designed to block access to computers until users pay a ransom fee.

A spokeswoman in the office of Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said they're working with the FBI to figure out what happened, and they don't think any data was compromised.

She also said it doesn't appear the Senate Democrats were targeted for any specific reason.

Asked if the caucus has backups of its data and programs, the spokeswoman declined to comment, saying that information is part of the investigation.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

back to top

Give Now

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »