Portland, Ore., CTO Warns of Spike in Hacking Attempts

Portland's chief technology officer is warning of an increase in sophisticated attempts from hackers trying to pry open city government computer systems.

by Gordon R. Friedman, The Oregonian / May 21, 2018

(TNS) — Portland's top tech officer is warning that hackers' attempts to break into city government systems are getting more common and advanced.

In an email sent Friday to all city employees, Jeffrey Baer, the city's chief technology officer, wrote that Portland is undergoing "an alarming number of new and more sophisticated attempts" by hackers to pry into city government computer systems.

It doesn't appear data was stolen from city networks, he wrote, adding that no Portland-run databases or billing systems were compromised. But, he said, some hacking attempts "may potentially have been successful," noting "compromised email addresses." City tech staffers are "actively researching what was touched and who might be affected," he said.

At least some of the attempted breaches are coming as "phishing" scams, Baer wrote. Phishing is when hackers try to make computer users unwittingly give them their system logins or credit card details by mimicking trustworthy web interfaces.

The problem isn't unique to Portland or governmental bodies. According to the FBI, companies and individual victims report hundreds of thousands of phishing attempts to law enforcement each year, and breached email accounts cost Americans more than $676 million in 2017.

©2018 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.