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Akron, Ohio

City of Akron Mitigating Attempted Malicious Cyber Activity

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City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt
Published: 01-25-2019

The City of Akron is investigating and mitigating criminal virus activity on City servers, which appears to be financially-motivated. On Tuesday, January 22nd, an attempt to access City funds was successfully identified, intercepted and prevented.  The City has taken swift and substantial protective action to limit the impact of this activity and protect City assets and information. The City does not have any intelligence at this time that suggests any personal information of our customers, taxpayers, or citizens was harvested. Current intelligence does not indicate any risk to public safety or any motivation to cause harm to the public.  Over the coming days, a joint city, state, and federal team will work to eradicate this malicious activity and maintain operational City services.

  

On the afternoon of Tuesday, January 22nd, the City of Akron Office of Information Technology became aware of suspicious activity on the City’s network.  The Akron Police Department was notified and immediate action was taken to investigate the problem and limit proliferation of any malicious software. This swift action required the City Office of Information Technology to temporarily shut down and protect critical software and hardware systems, including the City’s online 3-1-1 system. 

 

By the morning of Wednesday, January 23rd, the City had engaged the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to assist in the investigation and interdiction efforts.  Through that work, it was determined that this event merited additional resources, so the City contacted the Chief Information Security Officer for the State of the Ohio for activation of the 172nd Cyber Security Protection Team of the Ohio National Guard. This morning, at Mayor Horrigan’s request, Governor Mike DeWine authorized the deployment of this elite unit to assist in bringing a swift and thorough end to the malicious activity. 

 

Over the coming days, the joint city, state, and federal team will work together to eradicate and mitigate this activity and restore operational services. This process may require additional software and hardware system to be taken offline, which will likely impact certain city operations.  The City will communicate with the public in advance if we anticipate any major disruptions to city services or public access to online systems.

 

While mitigation efforts are evolving rapidly, current impacts include:

  • Certain software and hardware systems being unavailable within the Akron Municipal Court, which is requiring the temporary use of traditional recording devices and files;

  • Credit card payments being unavailable to the public in certain city departments, including Recreation, Building, and Tax.  Credit card payments continue to be available in the Utility Billing Office for payment of water/sewer utility bills. 

  • Certain internal City computers being relocated for forensic analysis.

 

In the coming weeks and months, investigators will conduct thorough forensic analysis to determine the full extent of the breach.  While current intelligence suggests that no personal information of City customers or tax-paying residents was harvested, investigation and mitigation efforts are ongoing, and any meaningful change in this intelligence will be promptly communicated to the public. 

 

“The Digital Age brings with it constant and ever-changing threats and we must remain vigilant and prepared,” Mayor Horrigan said.  “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.  Public institutions across the nation often are of particular interest to criminal actors, which is why the city has invested more than $9 million since 2016 in citywide IT infrastructure and maintenance. We will continue to monitor our systems and make necessary investments to protect public assets and citizen information.” 

 

“I want to thank our Office of Information Technology staff, City/County CIO Mark Petit, APD, and members of my staff whose quick and decisive action helped us to limit the impact of this incident,” Mayor Horrigan continued.  “Additionally, I want to thank Governor DeWine, the F.B.I., the Ohio National Guard and Ohio State Highway Patrol for the care and expertise they have brought to the situation. Rest assured, we are doing all we can, deploying every resource and partnering with every agency with expertise to protect our critical city infrastructure from criminal activity.”

For further information, contact:
Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary / Assistant Director of Law
166 South High Street
Akron, Ohio 44308
Phone: 330-375-2325
E-mail: [email protected]

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