Oakland says 311, business license systems still down, but National Guard is helping

IT experts from the California National Guard and other state agencies have been deployed to help Oakland deal with a ransomware attack that continues to cripple the city’s operations.

In an update published on Thursday night, the city said a range of city services are still not available nearly two weeks after a ransomware attack was initially revealed to the public.

Officials have been tightlipped about what city offices and services were affected by the incident after an anonymous City Hall "insider" disputed claims that financial systems were untouched.

The city’s 311 service for non-emergency infrastructure issues is still experiencing an outage. Officials urged residents to report issues like downed trees or tree limbs, flooding or sewer overflows, and street signal outages to the Oakland Fire Department's non-emergency line.

The portal for business tax payments and licenses is also unavailable. The city is offering businesses a 45-day extension from the March 1 due date to April 17 without any penalties, interest or late fees tacked on.

Those seeking to pay parking tickets can only make payments online or through a specialized phone number because cashier booth systems and phones are still knocked offline by the ransomware attack.

The update did include some good news: Oakland residents can now resume applying for permits through the city website, and the in-person counter for services has reopened. But the city is working to restore access to the online payment system for permits.

National Guard and more

Following the state of emergency declaration issued last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed to send experts from the Office of Emergency Services alongside other civilian departments, as well as the National Guard, also known as the California Military Department.

The teams arrived on Thursday, and officials said they will assist in their “workstation restoration efforts.”

“The City’s IT Department and leading cybersecurity and forensic teams continue working around the clock to test and recover impacted systems. Thanks to their efforts, we are pleased to share that a lot of progress has been made over the last few days to restore the network and critical public safety and financial systems,” officials said in a statement. 

“We continue working on a phased approach to bring public facing systems like our business tax, permitting, contracting and work order back online.”

Thursday’s notice follows another posted on Monday indicating that the city has also been able to restore access to public computers, and scanning, printing, copying and internet service at public libraries as well as wireless internet throughout city facilities.

They added on Monday that “critical public safety services” were also restored but did not respond to requests for comment about what that included. 

The city has had to repeatedly reiterate that there will be no late fees attributed to any upcoming payment deadlines that are hampered by processing delays rooted in the problems connected to the ransomware attack. 

“The City is committed to minimizing the impact on residents doing business with the City. While we continue to make progress, there is more work to be done,” the city said. “We are incredibly grateful for our community’s patience and will continue to provide updates as we work to restore services.”

No ransomware group has come forward to take credit for the attack, but concerns about what data may have been accessed from Oakland have grown since The74 reported this week that thousands of student mental health records are now floating around the dark web following the Vice Society ransomware attack on Los Angeles Unified School District last year. 

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Jonathan Greig

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.