Network outages in Birmingham persist as city officials stay tight-lipped

Jason Macuray
The city of Birmingham, Alabama, is still experiencing outages limiting government services more than a week after a network “disruption” forced officials to switch to cash transactions and to take other temporary actions.

The city of Birmingham, Alabama, is still experiencing outages limiting government services more than a week after a network “disruption” forced officials to switch to cash transactions and to take other temporary actions.

In a brief update posted to social media on Thursday evening, the city said its offices “remain open and staff is committed to serving the public despite a network disruption first announced a week ago.”

Since announcing a network outage on March 6, the city has provided no updates on the situation or explained what caused the outage. The city has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Recorded Future News and other local news outlets. A spokesperson for the city council directed all inquiries to the mayor’s communication office, which did not respond. 

AL.com reported on Tuesday that the city sent an internal memo to city employees assuring that salaries would be paid this month and denying rumors that data had been stolen. But the memo, written by city spokesman Rick Journey, provided no specifics about whether the city is dealing with a ransomware attack.

“As previously stated, essential services including 911, police, fire, household garbage pick up, and bulk trash/brush pickup have remained operational throughout this period without interruption for the public,” the city explained on Thursday.

“The city is processing all license renewals and accepting tax payments (cash and check only at this time). Individuals seeking new business licenses may face delays due to limitations to some systems.” 

Because things have to be done manually, permits may take more time to process. The city added that it is working to “restore operations to full capacity” but provided no timeline.

Despite claiming that police operations were not affected, officials told AL.com that the outage has impacted a system officers use to check for outstanding warrants and stolen cars. All transactions for taxes, permits and licenses have been affected by the outage. 

The March 6 statement announcing the outage said the city is facing a “disruption” of its computer network that has “paused certain services both online and in person.” Garbage pickup was not affected by the outage but the 311 call center is down. 

They urged the city’s more than 200,000 residents to check social media for updates, but none were provided until Thursday’s brief statement. 

The Birmingham outages took place as the state of Alabama dealt with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that briefly limited access to several government websites.

According to ransomware expert Brett Callow, at least 19 governments and agencies across the U.S. have been impacted by ransomware so far in 2024. 

Georgia’s Fulton County, home to Atlanta, is still in the process of recovering from a ransomware attack that limited services for more than a month. 

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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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