Akron officials requested Ohio National Guard To Help Investigate
Eight members of the Ohio National Guard have been called in to help an attempted cyber-attack on the city of Akron’s computer servers.
Akron asked Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday to authorize an Ohio National Guard cybersecurity team to help deal with an earlier hacker attack on the city’s digital network.
Ellen Lander Nischt the spokeswoman said “The hackers installed malware specifically targeting the city’s accounts in an attempt to steal money. When the city’s existing cybersecurity system prevented that, the hackers launched ransomware to coerce the city to pay to get the system unlocked.”
“They send these things to various types of agencies small and large and they’re just trying to get to the money,” Lander Nischt said.
There is no evidence that shows the virus captured taxpayer or customer data.
The 172nd Cyber Security Protection Team of the Ohio National Guard is expected to assist local and state IT professionals to remove the virus and restore the network.
The forensic analysis of the system will, however, be investigating it over the next few months to study the loop and how the breach happened.
As Lander Nischt said, “This is an ongoing investigation so we are going to continue to look at any potential breaches and we will inform the public if that information changes.”
The workers in the city’s IT Department found a strange activity on the network on Tuesday and immediately notified the Akron Police Department. The city sprang into action and the systems were shut down – including the city’s 3-1-1 information line – to safeguard the city’s infrastructure. On Wednesday, they called the FBI and State Highway Patrol to take it further.
The city took its 3-1-1 line off the hook over the week to protect the system, which resulted in complaints from residents not able to reach the city in the aftermath of winter storm Harper.
The joint team will continue working over the next few days.
Disruptions to the city’s systems are expected and could include; Municipal Court, which may experience some software and hardware systems are unavailable so traditional recording devices and files will be in use.
The online payment and Credit card payments system will not be available in places like recreation, building, and tax departments, however, credit card payment facility will be available in the city’s utility billing office.
Few Internal city computers will be removed for forensic analysis.
The city has invested more than $9 million since 2016 in IT infrastructure and maintenance, said Mayor Dan Horrigan in a news release.
“The Digital Age brings with it constant and ever-changing threats and we must remain vigilant and prepared,” Horrigan stated. “While this incident is ongoing, all current intelligence indicates that we were well-equipped and well-trained to address this malicious attack and that our employees took timely and appropriate action to prevent an attempted theft. We will continue to monitor our systems and make the necessary investments to protect public assets and citizen information.”