Cyberattack knocks out Pensacola city government phone lines

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The city government of Pensacola, Florida, is dealing with widespread phone outages due to a cyberattack announced over the weekend. 

City spokesperson Jason Wheeler told Recorded Future News that officials are experiencing phone issues across city departments that are causing delays in receiving service through the 311 Citizen Support system.

Emergency phone numbers like 911 are still operating, and Wheeler said non-emergency numbers can be used to contact the Pensacola Police Department and Fire Department. The city has also created alternate phone numbers for the energy department, sanitation, public works, engineering, housing and other departments. 

“Both Pensacola International Airport and the Port of Pensacola are operating as normal. City email is also working,” Wheeler said, adding that the City Council meeting on Monday would proceed as planned. 

“Unfortunately, this meeting will not be live-streamed. We plan to record it and post it at a later date. We appreciate the public’s understanding as we navigate these technical challenges. We will inform the public as soon as our systems are restored.”

Wheeler declined to answer questions about whether the incident involved ransomware, if the attackers had identified themselves, and if a ransom had been paid.

Over the weekend, the Pensacola News Journal said Wheeler notified them of the cyberattack, reiterating that emergency services like police and fire were not affected by the outages. 

Pensacola sits right on the border of Florida and Alabama,is about an hour away from Mobile and has more than 53,000 residents. 

The city has faced ransomware attackers before, dealing with hackers from the Maze ransomware gang during an incident in 2019.

The gang stole 2 gigabytes of data but the city refused to pay the ransom, instead spending about $300,000 to recover from the incident, according to the Pensacola News Journal. The city was forced to notify more than 57,000 people that their information had been accessed during the attack. 

The attack on Pensacola is the 21st on a local government in the U.S. in 2024, according to ransomware expert Brett Callow. The incident comes just days after Birmingham, Alabama  confirmed it was dealing with its own widespread outages due to a cyberattack. 

New Mexico’s Bernalillo County, with nearly 700,000 residents, released a statement last Friday warning that the Administrative Office of the District Attorneys has experienced a ransomware attack that is affecting at least three district attorney’s offices in New Mexico. 

“Partner agencies, including Bernalillo County, have taken defensive measures to protect themselves from being impacted by the bad actors. These measures include blocking suspicious email; disabling inbound network access from DAs offices; and disabling the public defender’s office Wi-Fi at the Metropolitan Detention Center,” the office said. 

“Bernalillo County’s IT Department recognizes that this could have adverse impacts on county operations and its staff is working with those impacted to minimize disruption. They advise all BernCo staff to be extra cautious with suspicious email and network activity.”

Local governments outside the U.S. have also been in the crosshairs.

The District of North Vancouver dealt with its own ransomware attack last week and the U.K.’s Leicester City Council said it is in the process of recovering from a cyber incident that shut down its phone lines as well as IT systems. 

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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.

 

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