Pensacola Under Attack as Suspected Ransomware Strikes

The US city of Pensacola has become the latest municipality to suffer a suspected ransomware attack taking out local services.

The north-west Florida city came under attack early on Saturday morning local time, according to local reports.

“The City of Pensacola has experienced a cyber incident, and we have disconnected much of our city network until the issue can be resolved. Our IT Department is working diligently to resolve the issue,” it said in a Facebook notice.

Services affected include some online payments such as Pensacola Energy and City of Pensacola Sanitation Services, and the 311 customer service line. City hall workers were also disrupted, as email and some phone systems were taken down.

An update on Monday appeared to suggest the local government was still battling to restore systems and remediate the incident.

“Please note that the city remains operational despite the cyber incident. We will continue to provide services as we are able to, and we want to emphasize that 911 is NOT impacted,” it noted.

The incident came just hours after a suspected terrorist shooting at the Naval Air Station (NAS) in Pensacola when a Saudi Arabian Air Force officer opened fire in a classroom, killing three sailors. However, the FBI has taken to Twitter to say that it had “not identified” a connection between the two incidents.

There is a connection, however, with the countless other ransomware raids on US municipalities across the country this year.

The situation has become so dire that the United States Conference of Mayors earlier this year passed a resolution not to cooperate with online extortionists.

Many local governments, including Florida's Lake City and Riviera Beach, have elected to pay ransoms in return for a decryption key, some of them out of cyber-insurance funds. This has emboldened the hackers to a certain extent.

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