Published On: Wed, Aug 19th, 2020

Museum hit with cyberattack; all data still intact

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

Eight months after the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was hit with a cyberattack, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian fell under attack.  But, the Museum was lucky to not suffer any loss of money nor data.

“Near the end of July, we thought a severe storm had hit our system with a power surge, and we were trying to reconnect to our point-of-sale systems,” said Dawn Arneach, Museum interim executive director.  “As that was not working, we decided to talk to our software provider to see if they could get our system reconnected.  As they were trying, we noticed some of our files had the wrong file extension on them.  This is when we figured out our system had been hacked.”

The Museum’s software provider put them in touch with a company that could help, Coherent Cyber LLC, based in San Antonio, Texas.

Arneach noted, “The company was able to look and tell that yes, we had been hacked and a ransomware virus had been installed.”

Herself and Museum staff worked for three weeks with their software provider as well as with Coherent Cyber, LLC and 7 Clans Technology.  “We were able to recover and restore our data,” Arneach commented.  “During this time, the Texas firm also did an investigation and wrote up their findings and will be submitting this paperwork to the FBI to add to their files of cyber-attacks.  We have been able to do re-installation from our backups.  Earlier this year, 7 Clans Technology advised the Museum to use an offsite, Cloud back-up.”

Arneach said the attack came from outside of the United States but could not divulge an exact location at this point due to the ongoing investigation.  “We did not pay a ransom amount.  We were very lucky to be able to work around this issue.  As far as we can tell, no money nor information was taken out of our systems.  The archives had been backed up to an external drive so we did not lose any archival information.”

Steps have been taken to lessen the chances of a future attack.  “We now will have a two-step authentication process for logging into our systems,” said Arneach.  “Because most of our computers are worked on-site and internally, we have a better hold on our access.”

She praised the Museum staff’s resiliency during this time period.  “The staff was great during this whole time.  We went to doing manual cash only sales for three days.  Then, our software provider helped us get the ability to do sales on tablets set up and running so we were able to do credit card sales as well.  We went back and did an inventory count of the store, and all of the staff pitched in so this would get done quickly and get our point-of-sale back in line with everyday use.”

Arneach added, “We were able to keep our doors open and even as trying as it could have been, the Museum staff stepped up, and I do not believe our visitors had an idea that anything was amiss.”

For more information on the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, visit: www.cherokeemuseum.org or call 497-3481.

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