The City of Pensacola, Florida, has suffered a cyberattack that is impacting phones, email and various e-commerce services, according to Mayor Grover Robinson. After discovering the attack on December 7, the city disconnected its network from the Internet to minimize the damage.
Multiple sources indicate it was a ransomware attack. However, Mayor Robinson declined to say if the attack involved ransomware, and whether the city was contemplating payment a ransom to hackers. Mayor Robinson's comments about the Pensacola cyberattack are in this facebook video.
Pensacola services that are down include:
- City emails and phones
- 311 customer service
- Online payments including Pensacola Energy and City of Pensacola Sanitation Services
However, the attack did not impact 911 and emergency services, and those services continue to operate. Also, Robinson said officials did not know if the attack was connected in any way to the deadly shooting at NAS Pensacola on December 6, The Pensacola News Journal notes.
Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, approximately 13 miles from the border with Alabama. As of 2010, the city's population was 51,923, Wikipedia reports.
Hackers Attack Multiple Florida Cities
Multiple Florida cities and municipalities have suffered ransomware attacks this year. Examples include:
- Officials in Lake City, Florida, voted to pay hackers $460,000 to recover data from a ransomware attack.
- Riviera Beach, Florida, paid hackers $600,000 to recover data after a ransomware attack.
In many cases, cities lack the proper tools, processes and training to mitigate such attacks. The basics include proper:
- backup software/services and associated testing services;
- endpoint, network and cloud security;
- cybersecurity awareness training;
- patch management; and
- best practices such as two-factor authentication (2FA).
Moreover, many municipalities lack relationships with MSSPs (managed security services providers), risk mitigation and business continuity experts.
Mayors Unite Against Ransomware Payments
Amid the ongoing attacks, the U.S. Conference of Mayors in July 2019 unanimously resolved to no longer accede to any ransom demands from hackers, following a series of cyber shakedowns that have extorted millions from city governments.