Pensacola Government Faces Cyber Attack Hours After Shooting at Naval Base
The government has not linked the attack to the shooting, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
- By Haley Samsel
- Dec 11, 2019
Just hours after a shooter killed three sailors at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the city itself said it was facing a cyber attack that caused the government to disconnect city services until the problem could be addressed.
Mayor Grover Robinson said the cyber attack, which began on Friday, has affected the city’s email and phone services as well as 311 customer service and online payments to energy and sanitation services. But 911 and emergency services have not been affected by the attack, CNN reported.
City leaders declined to link the attack with the shooting at the naval base, which was conducted by a Saudi airman participating in flight training alongside other international students. The FBI is investigating the shooting, which injured eight people and killed three others, as an act of terrorism.
“It's really too early to say one way or another,” Kaycee Lagarde, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said to CNN regarding a connection between the cyber attack and the shooting. "We understand that it's on people's mind but we just don't know at this point.”
The FBI’s office in Jacksonville echoed that statement in a tweet on Monday.
The incident was reported to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security as a precaution, according to a press release from the city. City services were still down as of Tuesday afternoon.
“The city does not yet have an estimate on when services will be fully restored, but Technology Resources staff is working to restore all network servers as soon as possible,” the government said in a Dec. 9 statement.
Officials did not specify if the attack involved ransomware, which hackers have increasingly used to extort money from city and state governments over the past two years. At least 22 local governments in Texas faced a series of coordinated ransomware attacks in August, not to mention recent high-profile attacks in Atlanta and Baltimore that cost the cities millions.
Hackers have also begun to increase their attacks on managed service providers, which offer technology and cybersecurity services to hundreds of businesses and local governments. The method allows malicious actors to extort several companies at once and increase their chances of receiving financial rewards.