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Pensacola Mayor Reveals Cyberattack Details and Confirms Ransomware

The cyberattack that shut down city networks and phone systems now confirmed as ransomware
Kelsey Brandt
Contributing Writer
Aerial view of Pensacola Beach on Memorial Day Weekend 2023

Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves has confirmed that the recent shutdown of the city’s networks and phone systems was the result of a ransomware attack. This incident closely mirrors a similar cyberattack that struck Pensacola in 2019. In the wake of the attack, the city has managed to restore its systems using safe data backups, avoiding paying the ransom demanded by hackers. However, the incident has incurred substantial costs, including over $300,000 spent on a cybersecurity consultant and identity theft protection for potentially affected individuals.

Why it matters: The repeated ransomware attacks on Pensacola highlight the escalating threat of cybercrime to municipalities. These incidents not only disrupt vital city services but also expose sensitive data, requiring costly measures to bolster cybersecurity and protect citizens’ personal information. Understanding how cities like Pensacola respond and recover from such attacks provides valuable insights into the challenges and strategies involved in managing cybersecurity risks at the municipal level.

  • Ransomware Confirmed: Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves acknowledged that the city’s network and phone system shutdown was caused by a ransomware attack. The attack is under investigation, with the Pensacola Police Department leading the efforts, alongside multiple other agencies.
  • Comparative Incident: This cyberattack is similar to a 2019 ransomware event that Pensacola experienced. In both cases, city data was compromised, and a ransom was demanded. The city’s robust emergency plan and priority system for restoring services, improved since 2019, have been effective in the current recovery process.
  • Recovery and Costs: The city successfully restored its systems using data backups and did not pay the hackers’ ransom. However, they incurred significant expenses, including over $300,000 for a cybersecurity consultant and identity theft protection for about 57,000 people potentially affected by the data breach.
  • System Restoration Progress: Mayor Reeves detailed the systematic restoration process, with 5 of the 15 prioritized systems fully operational and 7 partially operational. Essential services like phone, email, and the 3-1-1 system are back online, but some services, like online bill payments for Pensacola Energy and city sanitation, remain offline, causing inconvenience to residents.
  • Ongoing Challenges: The investigation into the attack is ongoing, with no clear timeline for completion. Meanwhile, the city is addressing customer concerns related to service disruptions, ensuring that late fees and other penalties due to the cyberattack will not be passed on to the citizens.

Go Deeper -> Cyberattack on city of Pensacola was a ransomware attack, mayor confirms. What happens now – Pensacola News Journal

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