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Cyber incident forces Cleveland to shut down city hall

Cleveland shut its city hall Monday as officials investigate a cyber incident affecting some systems. 

In a statement to Recorded Future News, a city spokesperson would not say what systems were shut down due to the incident but confirmed that  police, fire and emergency medical services are still functioning, as is the 911 dispatch center. Systems controlling the local ports and public utilities are also not affected. 

“While City systems remain offline, all daytime 311 calls will be handled by after-hours operators,” the spokesperson explained. “All internal systems and software platforms will be shut down until further notice.”

Only essential staff will be at city hall on Monday, and all of the affected systems will remain offline until they get a “better understanding of the situation.”

“We take cyberthreats extremely seriously and are working expeditiously to rectify the situation as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said.

City officials did not respond to questions about whether they are dealing with a ransomware attack, explaining they have not confirmed the incident’s “nature and scope” but are focusing on securing and restoring services in the safest way possible. 

With nearly 400,000 residents, Cleveland becomes the latest large American city to shut down services following a cyber incident. 

Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, was forced to turn to cash as the only form of payment last month following a ransomware attack that not only damaged city services but leaked troves of police documents to the dark web. 

Last week, data stolen during an attack on the Florida city of Pensacola earlier this year was leaked by a new ransomware operation — illustrating the difficulties law enforcement agencies have faced in dismantling the gangs behind attacks on local governments. 

Several cities across the state of Ohio have been targeted by ransomware gangs over the last two years, including Huber Heights, Mount Vernon, Circleville and more. Even the state’s lottery system was attacked by ransomware actors in December. 

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig

is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.