HENDERSON (FOX5) -- Las Vegas won’t pay up if it gets hacked. Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she will not negotiate with hackers in the event of a cybersecurity breach.
Cybersecurity experts warn that an attack is a very real possibility.
“With cybersecurity attacks it's really a question of when, not if,” said Shannon Wilkinson with Southern Nevada Cybersecurity Alliance. Wilkinson is one of the experts who will help "unlock" the city if it gets hacked.
“All of us will offer our services for free to help the city or the government recover,” she said.
That's key because Las Vegas said it won't be able to recover without help.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman co-sponsored a resolution with Baltimore's mayor, saying they will not give in to ransoms if someone uses a cybersecurity breach to hold the city's data or systems hostage.
“It really is becoming a common problem for governments ... cities like Baltimore, or there were three cities in Florida, hit just last month. The cities in Florida ended up paying over a million dollars in ransomware attacks,” said Wilkinson.
She added they’re still recovering.
Local governments tend to have older IT systems that aren't kept up-to-date and are running critical systems in the government -- they just can’t be patched and updated, so those networks need to be segregated by everything else,” explained Wilkinson.
Last year security firm Coronet found Las Vegas was the most insecure city in the country. The study pointed to a lack of state funding for cybersecurity and the use of public WiFi in hotels, restaurants and casinos.
“Could you imagine if you were the cyber-criminal that hacked Las Vegas? How it would bolster maybe, not just your pockets but also your reputation,” said Wilkinson.
She said it's not always about the money.
Wilkinson said while she advises cities not to pay a ransom, she thinks Mayor Goodman's open stand against it could make Las Vegas even more appealing.
“The city's taken measures. We probably have good backup systems and contingency plans and hopefully the ability to stop a ransomware attack before it even traverse the network and locked everything up. But I think by sponsoring the bill it could make Las Vegas a target, an attractive target,” said Wilkinson.
So if that happened here, how long would it take Las Vegas to recover Wilkinson said months.