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Richmond Heights hit by cyber criminals

Posted: 4:26 PM, Jul 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-09 18:30:25-04
Crippling ransomware attacks targeting US cities on the rise

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Another local city has been hit by cyber crooks. This time it’s Richmond Heights. A computer at city hall and the city’s server were infected with ransomware, which was discovered on July 2.

“We were fully up and running on the third,” said Richmond Heights Mayor David Roche. “We had emails and internet, they didn’t get affected."

Targeted ransomware attacks on cities, schools and police stations are on the rise, according to the cyber security firm Recorded Future.

They found at least 170 local governments have been attacked since 2013. Locally, Akron, Cleveland, and Richmond Heights are on the list of local governments that have been attacked.

“They’ve taken steps to put protections in place, but the bad guys can still get around it, that’s the problem that happened here,” said Chief Tom Wetzel with the Richmond Heights Police Department.

Ransomware encrypts computer files and the attacker demands payment for the key to unlock files. The ransomware usually gets into a system when someone clicks on a link in an email they have received.

“We think it might have come in as an email, but we’re not sure,” said Roche.

In Cleveland’s case, airport monitors and emails were down for days. That was not the case in Richmond Heights because the city acted quickly.

“They got in touch with us right away,” said Wetzel. “We moved quickly on it and involved our federal partners fast."

The FBI and Richmond Heights police are investigating to find out where the ransomware came from.

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