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Cyberattack forces Long Beach to shut computer networks

Long Beach officials said the cyberattack hit on

Long Beach officials said the cyberattack hit on Dec. 1. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Long Beach city computers and systems were hacked by a cyberattack Dec. 1, forcing the city to shut down its internal and external network.

The Long Beach City Council also canceled its meeting that night that was to be held over Zoom, citing unforeseen circumstances and the network suspension. A rescheduled meeting will take place Monday.

City information technology employees discovered unusual interactions within the city’s network. City officials contacted the Nassau County police deputy commissioner of information technology and the New York office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

City officials said they disabled network access to protect city data and hired a private cyber protection company to investigate the network hack and how it affected the city. Officials said the attack did not reach city funds, and the city did not lose access to any accounts.

"At this point we have no indication of any data breach, ransomware effort, or any other obvious malicious intent with regard to the city’s data, but the investigation is ongoing," City Manager Donna Gayden said.

The city conducted an external forensic examination of the network while it was suspended and hoped to resume its computer and phone systems by Monday. No arrests have been made.

Long Beach had already been pursuing a $50,000 homeland security grant made available to villages and local governments.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said he helped connect the city to homeland security experts to improve and protect its network and upgrade the systems. He said the governor’s office has helped make extra funding available for communities like Long Beach to defend itself from cyberattacks and improve technical infrastructure.

"It’s important to protect city infrastructure through a cyber lens and hardened infrastructure," Kaminsky said. "The same way any city has been around for a long time has infrastructure in place, cyber hackers and terrorists will find ways to find different holes to try to exploit it and everyone should be grateful this attack was not worse."

Long Beach did not have to pay any ransom to restore its system, unlike other communities and school districts that were hit. The Rockville Centre School District last year had to pay a $100,000 ransom to restore its data from a virus.

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman’s office recovered $710,000 in a 2019 phishing attack after a hacker posed as a county vendor. The comptroller’s office also unknowingly approved the transfer of nearly $1.4 million to the hacker, but the comptroller's bank account was frozen before the transfer was made.

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