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Cyberattack Strikes City Hall in Northern Illinois

The FBI is helping Belvidere, Ill., authorities investigate a cyberattack that struck dozens of computers at City Hall this week, leaving city employees without access to email and other programs on the city's network.

by Isaac Guerrero, Rockford Register Star / January 29, 2020
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(TNS) — The FBI is helping Belvidere, Ill., authorities investigate a cyberattack that struck dozens of computers at City Hall this week, leaving city employees without access to email and other programs on the city's network.

Mayor Mike Chamberlain said the attack happened late Monday or in the early morning hours on Tuesday. City employees arrived to work to discover that they were locked out of their computers.

Chamberlain stopped short of calling the attack a case of ransomware. No one has demanded a ransom from the city as a result of the cyberattack, he said.

Ransomware is a type of harmful software that denies owners access to their computer systems or data until a ransom is paid. It's often spread through infected emails and websites. Rockford Public Schools is still recovering from a ransomware attack that struck the district in September.

"We have invited the FBI and they are checking because we think there has been a widespread attack," Chamberlain said. "Possibly there are other cities debilitated by this."

"Until we determine how this occurred, I can't say how long it will be before we have everything back up and running," Chamberlain said. "All of our computers went down overnight. All of our computers are not working — I'm going to guess 40 or 50 computers."

The cyberattack hasn't crippled city services, the mayor said. Residents will still be able to pay water bills or pull a building permit, "but it might just take a few more minutes for us to help them because we may have to do some things manually," he said.

©2020 Rockford Register Star, Ill. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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