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Virus Cripples Most City-Owned Computers In Union City

UNION CITY (KPIX) - Workers in Union City were struggling with a virus that has infected their computer systems and crippled most city-owned laptops and desktops, including many used by the police department.

"An area that's been hit for police is not only the mobile desktop computers but also the computers located in our building that help officers provide reports," said Lauren Sugayan, a city spokesperson.

Sugayan says the city's emergency response system has been largely spared from the impact of the computer shutdown, in part, because the city of Fremont runs its 911 Dispatch Center. In addition, Alameda County provides fire services to Union City.

But at City Hall, the virus forced employees to open several hours later than usual, first opening its doors at noon. Even then, city clerks were not able to process even simple requests for building permits or other paperwork if the information was stored in its computer database.

"It did surprise me. And my first thought was that it's a little scary that this could happen in my city," said Omar Mohseni.

Sugayan says the computer virus was first discovered Saturday morning.

The city has called in the FBI and cyber-security experts from the state to help with their investigation.

Sugayan said they are still trying to understand the exact nature of the virus and could not definitively rule out the possibility that it was a ransomware attack. She did, however, add that no specific demands had yet been made.

"The city has not been asked to pay anything. But again, we're still assessing the type of virus that it is," Sugayan said.

It's not clear when the Union City's computer systems would be back up and running. A handwritten sign inside City Hall warned the public that the computers might not be back online until sometime next week.

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