Virus forces Union City to shut down computer system; online services down several days

ByAnser Hassan via KGO logo
Monday, September 23, 2019
EMBED <>More Videos

The city is working with the FBI, cybersecurity specialists, as well as state agencies involved with cybersecurity. It is unclear how residents' personal information may have been compromised.

UNION CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- City Hall finally opened Monday in Union City for the first time since a computer virus infected the city servers and forced the city shut down its entire computer system.

"The virus didn't necessarily shut everything down. It came in one way, infected the system and then we shut everything down as a precautionary measure," explains Lauren Sugayan, the communications and marketing manager for the city.

She repeated on several occasions that this is not a ransomware attack, but goes on to say they don't know long the system will be down.

"Online services will be out indefinitely, for the next several days," says Sugayan. That means residents, vendors or businesses needing to make a payment or apply for a permit, will have to wait.

"Any online services, like payments, licensing, permitting, all of those are impacted, which just means we can't process licenses and permits at this time," says Sugayan, adding, "If anybody communicates with city staff through work emails, that is impacted (as well)."

An alternative is to call City Hall or drop in, but even then, Sugayan says there is still no guarantee that payments can be processed or that licenses or permits will be issued. She says late fees and penalties will be waived in cases impacted by the shutdown, and deadlines will be extended.

"Unless it's an urgent matter, we ask that you give us the next few days so we can work through this matter. Our goal is to restore city services, so we can be fully operational, and to prevent the spread of the virus from infecting other systems,' says Sugayan.

Public safety is carried out by the city of Fremont and is therefore not impacted. The city's website is still up to access information or phone numbers.

Sugayan says she, "can't speak to the type of virus, its origin or how it infected the system," except to say that the virus may have come in late Friday night or early Saturday morning. It was finally detected by IT staff around 6 a.m. on Saturday.

The city is working with the FBI, cybersecurity specialists, as well as state agencies involved with cybersecurity.

Sugayan would also not comment on how residents' personal information may have been compromised.

"That is not something that we quiet know yet, in terms of whether people's personal information that is in our system is exposed or not. But we hope to have that information soon," says Sugayan.

Reggie Capili, an agent for a building contractor, waited several hours outside of city hall, trying to get answers.

Capili needs a building permit for a remodeling job, which can't start until the permit is issued. He says he understands that the problem is beyond the city's control, but says the delay will cause problems.

"A construction (project) has a time frame, most probably with this one, it will be delayed," says Capilil.

Union City advises checking their social media, like Facebook, for updates.