Ransomware attack on results in city network outage. Here’s what we know | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

The city of Wichita has shut down its computer network in response to a cyber attack, leaving some online city services temporarily unavailable and requiring first responders to switch to backup procedures.

“On May 5, 2024, certain City systems were encrypted by malware. In response, the computer network and systems were shut down to prevent the spread of the malware,” a city FAQ states.

The deployment of encrypted malware, oftentimes called a ransomware attack, allows hackers to lock access to files, databases and applications. They can then demand a ransom payment in return for restoring access.

It is not yet clear what if any personal data of Wichitans has been affected by the attack. Some residents pay their water and sewer bills online through a city portal that is currently unavailable. Payment portals for the clerk’s office and the municipal court system were also unavailable Monday morning.

The city says it is conducting “a thorough review and assessment” of the potential data breach and did not respond to an inquiry about the personal data of residents or city employees stored in the network. “Detailed assessments of these types of incidents take time,” the FAQ says.

Federal and local law enforcement have been notified and are investigating the incident while the IT department works with third-party specialists to restore the compromised network.

In response to the FAQ question “What group is claiming responsibility?” the city says no information on the identity of hackers is being shared “for operational security purposes.”

While the network remains down, Wichita’s police and fire departments are relying on backup procedures. “They are prepared for these matters and have switched to business continuity measures where appropriate to continue providing exceptional service,” the city states.

A city spokesperson did not respond to inquiries requesting more information about the police and fire departments’ contingency plans and asking how the outage could affect the preparation for or response to potential severe weather Monday evening.

In response to a detailed list of questions, city spokesperson Megan Lovely texted back “We will provide more information when we can.” Asked if city employees can send or receive emails from their city accounts, Lovely responded only, “We are working on it.”

The city provided no timeline for when systems will be brought back online, saying only that they will be “restored on a staggered basis to minimize disruptions.”


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