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Ransomware hackers release some stolen Oakland data

Ransomware hackers release some stolen Oakland data
Ransomware hackers release some stolen Oakland data 03:28

OAKLAND -- The city of Oakland has confirmed that some information stolen from the city's computer network was released by ransomware hackers who breached the city network in early February.

The city is working to determine what kind of data was released and said they'll notify individuals affected by the data release. In the meantime, city workers are being asked to monitor their bank statements and credit cards.

This week, some city services have been restored and are back online. People can now pay their traffic tickets online. The 311 phone line is working again for people report downed trees and similar issues.

Many other city phone numbers are still down as well as a website where business operators can pay their taxes.

"We tried to go on (to the city website) and pay our taxes and now we have to wait to pay our taxes," said Crystal Wahpepah, owner of Wahpepah's Kitchen.

She said it's not a bad thing to hold on to her money a little longer but it is an inconvenience to keep checking with the city to see when she can pay. She worries she may forget and rack up late fees.

"Especially a small business owner, we have a lot on our plate and a lot of things that we have to maneuver through (and now) we have to maneuver through this (ransomware attack situation)," Wahpepah said.

Wahpepah opened her restaurant in the Fruitvale Village more than a year ago.

"This is the first Native American restaurant here in Oakland," Wahpepah said.

The Oakland business tax due date was on March 1. The deadline has been extended to April 17 because the website doesn't work.

"Trouble paying taxes -- this is exactly why municipalities are targeted because they run so many critical services. And, once again, they're trying to put as much pain on the victims as possible to get them to pay," said Davis Hake, a cyber security expert who lives in Oakland.

Hake worked for the U.S. government and is a co-founder of Resilience, a company that provides cyber insurance and works with companies to prevent ransomware attacks.

He is not working directly on the Oakland case but he's familiar with the group that has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group is called Play.

"Play specifically has been one of the most active groups this year. They employ a tactic called 'Big Game Hunting' and this is where they specifically go after large, high-profile targets that may have lots of resources for them to try and extort. And it's interesting, because a lot of tools they use actually link them to other ransomware groups that have conducted attacks around the world. So it's really not surprising to see them target a municipality like Oakland," Hake said.

Oakland councilman Noel Gallo said the city is working with the FBI and cyber security experts to resolve the issue. He would not say how much money the cyber criminals are demanding from the city but admitted it's in the millions.

"We have enough challenges but, with this one, it impacts all of us. And, sadly enough, if money is going to be involved, then it's going to be our taxpayer dollars that cover the costs," councilman Gallo said.

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