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Calif. city officials restore 911 dispatching after cyberattack

Hayward Mayor Mark Salinas said the city’s recovery is ongoing


The city of Hayward has been gripped by a cyberattack that has disrupted city services for nearly a week

Paul Kuroda

By Andre Byik
Silicon Valley

HAYWARD, Calif. — The city of Hayward has restored its internal computer network following a cyberattack this month that disrupted 911 emergency dispatch systems and other municipal services, officials said Thursday.

The city brought its computer network back online Tuesday and said the 911 center’s computer-aided dispatch system, or CAD, was also restored, according to a press release. The CAD system is how the dispatch center receives calls and records and manages information to send police and firefighters to calls for service.

“In CAD’s absence, Hayward’s call-takers and dispatchers reverted to pen and paper, and radio communication with responding officers and firefighter-paramedics,” according to the release.

Mayor Mark Salinas said the city’s recovery is ongoing. And he offered words of caution to other jurisdictions that could be targeted by criminal hacking groups.

“I don’t think cities are ever out of the woods, because a cyberattack is an everyday reality,” Salinas said in an interview. “We just have to be diligent. We have to be proactive and really focus on cybersecurity in everyday practice.”

Access Hayward, a system through which non-emergency requests for service and other reports of problems are received, was also brought back online, according to the release.

Other systems have been restored as well. The city said residents can again do business through most of the city’s online portals, but some systems involving water bill payments and library services remain down or not fully functional.

The city said if it finds or receives evidence of a breach of private or confidential information of any employee, former employee or member of the public, it will contact the affected person directly. Chuck Finnie, a Hayward representative, said the city has not yet had to get in touch with anyone.

The cyber intrusion was detected in the early morning hours of July 9, and the city “moved immediately to lock down the activity by severing the city’s network,” according to the release.

The cyberattack has been described as an attempt to disrupt city services and extort ransom, and it prompted city officials to declare a local emergency, which allowed the city to suspend certain rules and regulations to more quickly respond to the attack. Finnie declined to comment on any ransom sought or information related to the identity of the intruders or investigations into the intrusion.

The city’s website, non-emergency phone systems and ability to receive emails were disrupted by the attack or the city’s response to the intrusion, according to the release. Those systems were gradually restored this month.

Throughout the weeks-long security breach, the city said it has communicated using cellphones, unaffected email, messaging and virtual meeting programs, and large- and small-scale Wi-Fi equipment.

Salinas, the mayor, said officials are evaluating and looking to strengthen city systems moving forward. And he urged residents to have confidence in police and firefighter calls for service.

“Our public safety systems remain strong and responsive,” he said.

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