In a recent turn of events, the City of Long Beach, California, has become the latest target of a cyberattack, compelling authorities to take swift action to mitigate potential risks. The incident, discovered on November 14, 2023, triggered the immediate shutdown of portions of the city’s IT network.
Proactive Measures Amidst Uncertainty
Long Beach, home to approximately 460,000 residents and ranking as the seventh most populous city in California, raised the alarm after IT personnel detected unusual activities on their network. While the exact nature of the cyberattack remains undisclosed, the city’s response bears the hallmarks of a proactive measure against ransomware, a malicious software that often involves data theft.
To contain the potential threat, the city opted to take several systems offline promptly. The precautionary measure, aimed at preventing the further spread of the attack, is expected to keep the affected systems offline for an unspecified duration, possibly lasting several days.
Although certain online services will experience disruptions throughout the weekend, emergency services, including 911 calls, remain unaffected. City officials have assured the public that essential communication channels, such as city email and phone systems, are anticipated to remain available.
Collaboration for Investigation
The City of Long Beach emphasized its commitment to transparency throughout the investigation. While details about the specific nature of the cyber incident are yet to emerge, the city has engaged an external cybersecurity firm to conduct a thorough forensic examination. Simultaneously, the FBI has been notified, indicating the severity and importance attached to the ongoing investigation.
Brett Callow, a threat analyst from Emsisoft specializing in tracking attacks on local governments in the United States, raised the possibility of this incident marking the 80th local government falling victim to a ransomware attack in 2023. Of these incidents, 46 have involved confirmed data theft.
This cyber incident follows a string of attacks on public entities in the region. The Long Beach Unified School District suffered a cyberattack nine months ago, resulting in the exposure of student data. Notably, similar attacks targeted the Los Angeles Unified School District in the preceding year.
The City of Long Beach is expected to provide updates on the incident’s developments through its official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As the investigation unfolds, city residents are encouraged to remain patient in light of potential delays or disruptions to online services.