Oakland Declares State Of Emergency After Ransomware Attack

The Californian city of Oakland is struggling to recover from the impact of a ransomware attack that took down its IT systems on 8 February.

BleepingComputer noted that interim City Administrator G. Harold Duffey declared a state of emergency to allow the City of Oakland to expedite orders and equipment procurement, and activate emergency workers.

Last November a report from cybersecurity specialist Deep Instinct had warned that the cyber risks facing businesses during 2022 remain severe, with ransomware being the most serious threat to organisations.

Oakland attack

Earlier this month the UK, in conjunction with the US, sanctioned seven Russian cyber criminals, linked to the group behind some of the most damaging ransomware attacks in recent years.

Now according to an updated Oakland press release, “the City of Oakland continues to work around the clock to implement recovery plans that will restore impacted systems as quickly and as securely as possible.”

“Today, Interim City Administrator, G. Harold Duffey issued a local state of emergency due to the ongoing impacts of the network outages resulting from the ransomware attack that began on Wednesday, February 8,” it stated. “Oakland continues to experience a network outage that has left several non-emergency systems including phone lines within the City of Oakland impacted or offline.”

The declaration of a local emergency allows the City to Oakland to expedite the procurement of equipment and materials, activate emergency workers if needed, and issue orders on an expedited basis, while it works to safely restore systems and bring services back online.

“The City’s IT Department is working with a leading forensics firm to perform an extensive incident response and analysis, as well as with additional cybersecurity and technology firms on recovery and remediation efforts,” it said. “This continues to be an ongoing investigation with multiple local, state, and federal agencies involved.”

In the meantime Oakland residents are being urged to “please continue to call 911 for emergencies.”

“Our Police and Fire Departments continue to actively respond to emergency calls,” the city stated. “Please note some delays in our response are to be expected as we work through the impacts of this incident.”

State of emergency

Ransomware of course remains the scourge of computer systems, and has impacted businesses and cities around the world, including the City of Baltimore in 2019.

A number of other US cities have previously declared state of emergencies as they sought to recover from a ransomware attack.

For example in July 2019 Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency after school systems in Sabine, Morehouse, and Ouachita parishes in North Louisiana were hit by ransomware attacks.

Then in December 2019 the city of New Orleans declared a state of emergency after all governmental computers were forced to shut down after it was hit by a ransomware attack.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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