Ransomware Attack Leads to State of Emergency in Oakland

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It’s not just hospitals and companies that are vulnerable to ransomware attacks – entire cities can be attacked too.

Earlier this month, the City of Oakland faced a ransomware attack that hampered local government operations, forcing the city to declare a state of emergency (reference).

What are the immediate and long-term effects when a city experiences a ransomware attack? Let’s dig in.

Ransomware Impacts City Systems

Countless operations intertwine to make a city run. Cybercriminals understood the intricacies of the City of Oakland when they targeted their non-emergency systems, specifically including phone lines, which put the city entirely offline. Because of how critical phone lines are to the city’s infrastructure, the city was forced to issue an emergency declaration allowing it to expedite equipment and materials, activate emergency personnel if needed, and issue expedited orders.

In addition to phone lines, emergency services were delayed (though not completely compromised), and government officials could not access the city’s VPN, though financial systems were not reported to be affected.

While city officials would not specify which government departments were specifically impacted, the city is unable to continue the shutdown longer than a week. The emergency order includes the request for state and federal funds to cover recovery costs related to the ransomware attack.

This City of Oakland attack follows six other local governments affected by ransomware just this year, with data stolen in at least four cases.

Expect and Plan for Ransomware Attacks 

We no longer live in a reality where organizations, government agencies, and even cities can “hope” that a ransomware attack won’t affect them. The truth is that ransomware now affects just about everything–from the private sector to the government. The best approach is a proactive approach and a clear understanding of how your entity will respond when ransomware breaches your systems.

As a managed and co-managed IT service provider in the Greater Phoenix Area, PK Tech supports small to medium-sized businesses across various industries, from healthcare to accounting. We focus on personalized and preventative measures to protect your business from ransomware. To learn more about what we offer, book a 15-minute free discovery call with a member of our IT team.