A computer virus made its way into City Hall computers July 5 and continues to cause problems related to licensing services. City officials say it does not appear that any resident data was stolen in the incident.
(TNS) — Some City Hall computers remained down for a fifth day on Tuesday, and a city official says a virus is to blame.
New Bedford's technology staff has not found any evidence that residents' personal data was stolen, according to Jonathan Carvalho, a spokesman for Mayor Jon Mitchell. He said there is no indication the system was hacked.
Some computers that were down Monday are now running, and some were never affected, he said.
The problem started Friday, July 5, according to City Hall employees.
On Monday, services such as dog and shellfish licenses were not available due to the outage, but Carvalho said employees have now been asked to perform tasks manually. Business certificates and most other city services are available, he said. Recent property records are available online.
Asked if the city had been attacked by ransomware, which typically disables computers and demands payment, Carvalho said, "The IT staff is working with external consultants to assess the nature and scope of the disruption in IT services."
Hackers have used ransomware on public-sector computer systems around the country. Baltimore suffered such an attack in May and refused to pay.
After the Baltimore attack, CNN reported that as of May, at least 22 public-sector systems had been attacked with ransomware this year.
In June, The Washington Post reported that the city council in the small Florida city of Riviera Beach voted to pay 65 bitcoin (equal to nearly $600,000 at the time) through its insurance carrier to hackers.
In New Bedford, services that are available during the outage include the pulling of nomination papers for election, voter registration, and beach passes (cash only).
Editor's Note: This story was amended on July 9, 2019 to more precisely describe the extent of the computer disabling, and whether the system was hacked or subjected to ransomware.
©2019 The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.