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Joplin Provides Updates on Fallout of 2021 Cyber-Attack

Over two years ago, the city of Joplin was hit with a ransomware attack.

As a result,the city council allocated more resources to reduce the chances of another attack in the future.

KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro reports we got an update Monday on how the response is going.

The attack took place in early July of 2021, it wasn’t publicly disclosed until the following month although city employees and staff knew something was wrong when phone systems quit working, they couldn't log into their work computer and were paid by check instead of direct deposit.

Joplin officials said at the time the city was insured for the hack and paid $320,000 to reclaim control of their network.

Mark Morris, head of IT for the city of Joplin says he is still using the cyber-attack as a learning opportunity.

“So, on to the phishing campaign. First week of October, I decided that I would put out two different emails. I kind of wondered sometimes if we send out one email by the second hour the emails would go out, you know 75 an hour to the employee base, by about 11 o'clock everybody's saying, hey don’t open that email.”

Morris reported that out of 400 phishing emails sent to Joplin City employees, 26 employees clicked on the link. Eight of those employees entered their email and password into a fake portal setup by Ravenii, Joplin’s cyber security contractor; another 15 employees reported that the email was phishing.

The employees who entered their online credentials into the fake portal were awarded immediate cyber security training.

Copyright 2023 Four States Public Radio. To see more, visitFour States Public Radio.

Since 2017 Fred Fletcher-Fierro has driven up Highway 171 through thunderstorms, downpours, snow, and ice storms to host KRPS’s Morning Edition. He’s also a daily reporter for the station, covering city government, elections, public safety, arts, entertainment, culture, sports and more. Fred has also spearheaded and overseen a sea change in programming for KRPS from a legacy classical station to one that airs a balance of classical, news, jazz, and cultural programming that better reflects the diverse audience of the Four States. For over two months in the fall of 2022 he worked remotely with NPR staff to relaunch to an NPR style news and information website.

In the fall of 2023 Fred was promoted to Interim General Manager and was appointed GM in Feburary of 2024.