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Ransomware Attack hit Richmond Heights City Hall


Richmond Heights City Hall has suffered from ransomware attack on Jul. 1, 2019. Thomas Wetzel, the Police Chief, said at City Council meeting on Jul. 9, 2019, that a computer of City Hall and the server got infected. However, the internet and email services remain unaffected.


David Roche, the Mayor, said that the City Hall got infected with the ransomware when someone has opened one phishing email sent by an unknown and unidentified sender. The ransomware then encrypted all files and the screen of the infected computer displayed ransom note, demanding the ransom amount in bitcoins. But, how much dollars worth bitcoins have been demanded still remains unknown.


Roche said regarding the ransomware infection that "they get into your machine (computer) and they encrypt all your files, and then they say, 'Give us a bunch of bitcoin and we'll give you the encryption code to un-encrypt your files.' So, it's a ransom. It's a bitcoin thing. Then, they'll tell you how to convert your credit card to bitcoin".


Once the ransomware attack was discovered, the City officials reported this incident to the FBI and the Richmond Heights Police Department (RHPD). On Jul. 2, 2019, the IT team of the city has recovered all encrypted files and also restored city services to routine and normal operations, since they had the backup computer system.


"The City Hall's computer system appears to be functioning normally at this time, but will be monitored closely to ensure its data is protected," said Wetzel while closing the reading of the brief statement at City Council's meeting on Jul. 9, 2019.


Wetzel also said once the meeting is over that "we're cautiously optimistic that no data has been compromised further. There's always a chance, but we're hoping that's not the case". He added that their federal partners (i.e. the FBI) were very helpful.


The RHPD as well as the FBI are continuing investigating this incident, so as to determine source of this attack. Besides, the IT team of the city is also reviewing their security, so as to ensure that proper backup is there in case of another future infection.


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