On Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019, the city of Seal Beach was the victim of a ransomware attack, according to a statement issued by the city on Tuesday, Dec. 31. During this attack, hundreds of private businesses and government entities were also targeted. The city of Seal Beach and the Police Department reacted swiftly to the attack. city computer functions are being restored. However, as the restoration and investigation process continues, the city may continue to experience periods of limited functionality.
Ransomware, or malware, are computer programs which attackers use to infect a computer network. Ransomware attackers gain entry into a computer system and lock all files and data thus prohibiting users from accessing them. Typically the victims are unable to use any of their files, emails, or other data, effectively crippling the organization’s computers. Attackers require the victim to pay a ransom, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, in order to unlock the files and data on the victims’ computer systems.
The preliminary investigation into this incident revealed that the city’s information technology (IT) service provider was targeted. The attackers were then able to encrypt the city of Seal Beach’s computers with the malware. The city’s IT service provider was able to restore some files and is actively working to return the city’s computer systems to normal.
At no time was public safety compromised as the result of this attack. The city’s ability to respond to emergencies and routine calls for service was not impacted. The 9-1-1 telephone, dispatch, and critical police systems continued to function as normal throughout the duration of the attack. However, city email and voicemails were affected. Emails and voicemails sent to city employees from around December 18th to December 30th were likely undelivered. If you contacted a city employee during this time and have not received a response, please resend the email or call again.
The Seal Beach Police Department is working closely with federal and state investigators to investigate this incident. The city will continue to work to bring the computer systems back online and regain full operations.
The nature of ransomware attacks is that they deny the user with the ability to access their own information. There is no evidence that any personal identifying information was compromised or obtained by the ransomware attackers. As a matter of practice, the city and Police department urge the public to routinely monitor their credit and bank accounts for suspicious activity.