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City officials blame New Zealand holiday for delay in fixing airport issues

Posted at 2:01 PM, Apr 29, 2019

CLEVELAND — The city blamed New Zealand’s version of Memorial Day as one of the reasons it took so long to resolve the technical issues at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

When addressing the media Monday about the length of time it took to recover airport systems, city spokeswoman Valarie McCall said the flight and baggage information screens are run through a third-party vendor. Off-screen, a city official confirmed that vendor was based in New Zealand.

“New Zealand, so there was a holiday that took place as well,” McCall said. “We lost a few days where normally turnaround would have been a lot quicker than what it normally would have been.”

While city officials did not specify the holiday, ANZAC Day took place on Thursday, April 25, the fifth day that airport systems were down due to the technical issues caused by the malware.

ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates those who served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. It is essentially New Zealand’s version of Memorial Day, and was originally a day honoring the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Coprs (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign during World War 1. The day is a public holiday in New Zealand, and many stores and businesses close.

Flight and baggage information screens, and the airport's email systems, were brought down Sunday, April 21 after a malware caused technical issues at the airport. City and airport officials repeatedly denied there was a "hack," but finally revealed Friday in a news release that malware was discovered on computer systems at the airport. Officials said the systems were not accessed by any unauthorized personnel, and were therefore not hacked, and there were no ransom demands.

During the news conference Monday, officials did admit that ransomware was discovered on airport systems, but claimed that because there were no specific ransom demands made, they were accurate in releasing the media and the public the information they knew when the knew it.


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