Cleveland Museum of Natural History targeted in ransomware attack

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Museum of Natural History was recently the target of a ransomware attack.



a statue in front of a brick building: The Cleveland Museum of Natural History made staff cuts recently due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic downturn.


© Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer/Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com/TNS
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History made staff cuts recently due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

The museum released a statement Tuesday that Blackbaud, a third-party security service provider, managed to thwart the attack, which happened in May. The museum said Blackbaud’s cybersecurity team, along with independent forensics experts and law enforcement, kept the attacker “from blocking Blackbaud’s system access and fully encrypting files.”

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Blackbaud said in a release that the hacker managed to remove some data before it booted the hacker from its system. Blackbaud paid the ransom the hacker demanded, but did not disclose the cost. The company insisted it received confirmation that the hacker destroyed the data it stole.

The museum said credit card information, bank account information or Social Security numbers were not accessed.

“Based on the nature of the incident, Blackbaud’s research, and third-party (including law-enforcement) investigation, we have no reason to believe that any data went beyond the cybercriminal, was or will be misused, or will be disseminated or otherwise made available publicly,” the museum wrote in its release.

Blackbaud helps provide data intelligence and cloud software, services and expertise for the museum and a host of other companies. The company provides these products and services to help “empower and connect people to drive impact for social good,” according to its website.

Blackbaud and the museum declined to comment on what information the hacker stole or how much they wanted in ransom. It is unclear how the hacker accessed the network, and it’s also unclear whether museum guests and employees information was the target of the attack.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History said to be watchful and report suspicious activity or identity theft to them, Blackbaud as well as law enforcement. Anyone with questions or concerns can email the museum at [email protected]

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