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Cyberattack downs phone, online services in Pensacola, Florida | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware | #hacking | #aihp

Pensacola, the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, is suffering widespread phone outages due to a cyberattack that was first detected over the weekend.

The cyberattack, first reported by Recorded Future, disrupted the city’s 311 system, a phone line for residents to report city-related issues. It’s also caused delays across several city departments.

As of Monday afternoon, Pensacola’s 311 Citizen Support System was again fully operational, said Jason Wheeler, the city’s public information officer. Online bill payments, including Pensacola Energy and City of Pensacola Sanitation Services, have yet to be restored.

Wheeler said city officials detected the attack last Saturday morning.

“The City of Pensacola’s Innovation and Technology Department continues to investigate the
incident while also going through a deliberate process to restore our information network,” Wheeler told StateScoop in an emailed statement. “While some services have been impacted, the City of Pensacola has remained operational throughout this incident.”

Wheeler said city emails and many city landlines are still in service. He said the city’s emergency phone system is operational, but residents can also contact the Pensacola police and fire departments using non-emergency numbers. City officials also created alternate phone numbers for the departments of energy, sanitation, public works, engineering, housing and others following the cyberattack.

“We are still awaiting an estimate for when all services will be fully restored. Until then, we continue to ask our citizens to please be patient as we work through these challenges,” Wheeler said.

The attack on Pensacola follows a denial-of-service cyberattack in Birmingham, Alabama, last week that disrupted the Alabama state government, including its phone service.

The Florida beach town, home to a population of over 54,000, is no stranger to cyberattacks. In 2019, the city suffered a ransomware attack by the Maze ransomware gang. The group uploaded files belonging to the city government it claimed to have extracted from Pensacola’s data stores to a public website in an effort to force city officials to pay a $1 million ransom.

Wheeler did not comment on whether the current cyberattack is a ransomware attack.

“Due to the security issues surrounding this incident, specific information will not be released,” Wheeler said of the ongoing investigation. “However, as the Innovation and Technology Department continues to make headway, the City of Pensacola will provide updates to the public.”

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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