Hackers forced the Minnesota Senate website offline Tuesday, the latest in a series of cyberattacks targeting state and local computer systems.
Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman wrote in an e-mail to staff that the Senate’s server was “hacked and accessed for several minutes” starting at 4:24 a.m. Tuesday. Senate information technology employees “brought down the server as a precaution” as they worked with Minnesota IT Services and the FBI to trace what was accessed, his e-mail said.
While the hack hit a file that includes the Senate Wi-Fi password, login information for senators and staff was not accessed. The Wi-Fi password has been reset.
Ludeman said the security breach came from the same hacker group that targeted 10 state agencies, including the governor’s office, in recent days.
It’s unknown whether the attacks are related to demonstrations and unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd. But Gov. Tim Walz said at a weekend news conference that “a very sophisticated denial-of-service attack on all state computers was executed” as the state readied its response to riots on Saturday.
Such denial-of-service attacks send high levels of external traffic to a website’s servers, causing the site to freeze or crash.
“That’s not somebody sitting in their basement,” Walz said at the time.
City of Minneapolis websites also experienced outages due to a cyberattack early Thursday morning. A city spokeswoman said there was no evidence of a data breach and that most of the sites were back online by 9 a.m. that day.
Staff writer Liz Navratil contributed to this report.