Cleveland City Hall to Reopen to Public Thursday Following Ransomware Attack

But still no word on if the FBI identified the hackers

Cleveland City Hall is still reeling from a ransomware attack last week. - Scene Archives
Scene Archives
Cleveland City Hall is still reeling from a ransomware attack last week.
Ten days after a cybersecurity threat shut down dozens of routine services and threw a wrench into daily city business, Cleveland City Hall is planning—finally—to reopen Thursday at noon.

On June 10, the city announced a "cyber attack" had hindered regular operations, leading to a sudden shut down, which meant hundreds of employees working remote and residents shut out from the building. Days later, the attack was categorized as ransomware, meaning hackers had penetrated an open door in the city's digital infrastructure and potentially held files or servers hostage.

It's unclear if Clevelanders' personal data was comprised, as is possible in a ransomware attack. Moreover, the city did not disclose whether the hackers were identified by cybersecurity officials. A report this year from cybersecurity company Sophos suggested the average payment to hackers was $2.2 million.

A city spokesperson this week said the city has no intent on paying the ransom. It will likely, however, be faced with bills for vendors and face some financial hit for the fiasco.

"We thank the public for their patience and understanding during this challenging time," a spokesperson for City Hall wrote in a statement. "City Hall remains committed to ensuring the security and integrity of our systems and services as we continue to recover from the cyberattack."

Starting on noon tomorrow, all services in Assessments/Licenses, Vital Statistics, Building & Housing and Civil Service will be reopened and operating like normal, the city said. (Online portals, they added, "are safe to use.") A call to 311 Wednesday morning still brought up its afterhours line, despite claims that the service would be operating as usual.

Clevelanders are advised to arrive early and carrying some patience: "Things may be slow, and we expect lines for service."

Cybersecurity threats on city institutions have ballooned in the past four years, and apparently have doubled since January, according to reports from the FBI. Last year, 3,729 ransomware attacks of high caliber were reported to the Feds, causing some $49 million in damage and expenditures.

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Mark Oprea

Mark Oprea is a staff writer at Scene. For the past seven years, he's covered Cleveland as a freelance journalist, and has contributed to TIME, NPR, the Pacific Standard and the Cleveland Magazine. He's the winner of two Press Club awards.
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