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Missouri City Government Launches Ransomware Investigation

A statement from officials at Joplin, Mo., City Hall said that the systems affected had been isolated and the incident reported to law enforcement. City officials also consulted a cybersecurity firm.

(TNS) — A cybersecurity investigation is being conducted to recover information in what city of Joplin officials said Thursday was a “network security incident.”

The intrusion disabled many of the city government’s computerized and online operations, including its internet telephone service.

City officials were not available Thursday to answer Globe questions about the incident and whether customer information was compromised. Someone may be available Friday to address security questions, said city spokesman Lynn Onstot said.

A City Hall statement said that the systems affected had been isolated and the incident reported to law enforcement. City officials also consulted a cybersecurity firm to investigate the intrusion.

“We are working diligently to investigate this activity and bring our systems online as quickly as we can,” the statement read. “This incident has not impacted our ability to provide police, fire, or emergency services to our community.”

While the regular telephone lines to city departments are not working, residents can still reach 911 to report an emergency, the city said.

Online services that were halted by the incident include online bill pay for sewer and trash. Those can be made by taking the payment to City Hall, 602 S. Main St. The city cannot take payments for any services by debit or credit cards, the information indicated.

The city had previously announced that Municipal Court was closed and could not conduct cases at this time. Payments on fines can be made in person by cash or check at the Public Safety and Justice Center, 303 E. Third St.

Applications for planning and zoning, building permits and inspections, as well as code enforcement complaints and services can be done at the front counter of the public works department on the fourth floor of City Hall with cash or check for payment.

Services of the Joplin Health Department are limited, including case investigation of communicable diseases, WIC services, temporary Medicaid applications, vital records and some vaccinations. COVID-19 vaccinations can still be obtained at the health department. Dispatching for animal control requests is limited, but dog bites can be reported by calling 911.

Online services for enrollment in parks and recreation programs or payments for them cannot be made online, but those services are available at the Joplin Athletic Complex, 3301 W. First St.

There are no changes in service at Schifferdecker Golf Course or the Joplin Municipal Airport, according to the city.

Schifferdecker Aquatic Center has been open but will close to the public Friday through Sunday for the Berzerker Swim Team to hold a swim meet.

However, Cunningham Pool will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. those days for public swimming. Admission is $4.50 for those 15 years old and younger and $5.50 for those 16 and older. Children 2 and younger are admitted free. Cash payments are being accepted for admission.

Because the pool is being opened for public swim only temporarily, concessions will not be available but customers may bring their own plastic water containers.

Public pool operations at Schifferdecker will reopen Monday.

In regard to the network security intrusion, the city in the statement said it will look for ways to increase security measures of the affected systems as they are being restored.

© 2021 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.