San Francisco on high alert after cyberattack on Asian Art Museum computers

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Computer system back up after cyberattack on SF Asian Art Museum
The ransomware attack on the Asian Art Museum foundation's computer system in May raised alarms at San Francisco City Hall.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The ransomware attack on the Asian Art Museum foundation's computer system in May raised alarms at San Francisco City Hall.

"It has re-elevated the conversation at City Hall, whether we're prepared, whether we have the right protocols in place," says Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who believes the City is staying ahead of the hackers.

"We are prepared for cyber attacks. We are prepared for ransomware attacks," he said.

ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: Hackers demand ransom, launch cyberattack on Asian Art Museum computers in San Francisco

City Administrator Naomi Kelly told ABC7news the City has developed a comprehensive cybersecurity program.

"We are assessing our system. We're doing routine monitoring. We're doing risk assessments. We're updating our software on a regular basis."

In fact, it was the City's IT security experts that helped restore the Museum's paralyzed computer network after the cyberattack.

An official there tells ABC7 News no ransom was paid.

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City Administrator Kelly says that's in keeping with the City's established policy.

"I want to make it very clear the City of San Francisco is not going to pay ransom. We don't believe in taking taxpayer dollars to fuel criminal enterprises."

She says the City of San Francisco has the insurance to back it up.

"We have purchased cybersecurity insurance to make sure in the event of a hack or ransomware attacks, that we can replace our hardware quickly."

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San Francisco has had a lot of time to build a good cybersecurity system.

In 2008, Department of Technology specialist Terry Childs hijacked the City's computer network, blocking officials access to the system.

Childs, who was later arrested, finally released the network's password.

"But it took a jailcell visit by then Mayor Gavin Newsom to make it happen," says Supervisor Peskin.

"That was the big wake up call over a decade ago to San Francisco government and since then we have stayed at the cutting edge of technology."

City Administrator Kelly also tells ABC7 News the City has ongoing training sessions for employees who use the computers.

She also said the City computer network gets hacked on a frequent basis but so far, unsuccessfully.