How did over 620 US computer systems get hacked? Who has the power to ‘seize’ so many digital networks?

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A ransomware attack earlier this year shut down flight-information and baggage-status screens at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. The FBI is investigating. (Photo by Michael Francis McElroy/Getty Images)

By Bill Hoffmann

Hackers took over 621 government computer systems in the first 9 months of this year, crippling hospitals, transportation, and emergency medical services in cities and towns across the country. Scores of state and local entities were forced to fork over millions in ransoms just to regain control of their own data.

According to the Emsisoft computer security firm that published the study, the entities affected include school districts, hospitals, healthcare service providers, property-tax bureaus, utility departments, and more.

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