City of Tulsa shuts down online services over computer breach

After speaking at a press conference, Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum puts on his mask and watches as Tulsa Fire Chief Michael Baker briefs Tulsans on news of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, 8 July 2020, in Tulsa, Olka. (John Clanton/Tulsa World via AP)

The city of Tulsa is changing its password following a computer breach that infected its network infrastructure with malware. A ransomwareC threat caused the city of Tulsa to shut down nearly all of its network of sites and all online services, including payment options for bills and services.

Tulsa Police Department, in a Facebook post, noted that no personal information was breached and that several Tulsa websites were being repaired and updated in the wake of the attack. Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum insisted the city’s emergency services were undisturbed during the breach.

Hacking brings down city websites

Meanwhile, despite the hack being downplayed, the City of Tulsa, Tulsa City Council, and Tulsa Police websites are all down for “maintenance.” The City insists that when the worksites return, they will be safer and less easily attacked by bad actors.

Over the weekend, the city alerted online security authorities to the malware attack. Security services are working to identify the source, with the support of external experts who work to reverse the data loss. The online service shutdown has been initiated in order to prevent the spread of new malware.

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Chain of hacks across cities

Tulsa isn’t the first major city to be hit by a cyberattack. Atlanta, Albany, Knoxville and New Orleans all suffered citywide online security breaches services. This led the United States Council of Mayors to unite and denounce the cities for paying the ransom called for the attacks to stop.

An article from C-Net from 2 years ago explains ransomware attacks like, “[using] malware to lock users out unless hackers are paid, usually with bitcoin. Cities were chosen one by one, with seemingly little recourse. They have been prime targets for ransomware attacks because cities cannot afford to leave certain services frozen. In its statements, the city of Tulsa did not mention the specific hackers or the ransom cost.

Mayor of Tulsa GT Bynum confirmed that the malware hack first appeared on April 21, almost 3 weeks ago. He didn’t explain why the city didn’t publicly announce the attack at the time, or confirm how long the ransomware had been around to infect city services.

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