AKRON, Ohio — Akron officials are warning residents to closely monitor their personal information after a cyber-attack against networks across the country, including the City of Akron.
Friday afternoon, city officials estimated that the information of about 8,000 residents had been compromised. That number is now estimated at 25,000 to 30,000, according to a release from the city.
The first sign computers were attacked in Akron came after city officials learned that their website had crashed on Thursday.
“We checked into it, and originally thought the hackers only got to our website, and our initial response was they just got to our website and corrupted a couple of files on our website, nothing internal. But after we got that, we looked deeper into the situation and somehow got their way past our protection and into our files,” said Deputy Mayor Rick Merolla.
Merolla said a group headquartered halfway around the globe in Turkey sent a cyber blast across the United States that somehow penetrated the security on computers in Akron and in Mobile, Ala.
“Our systems are all, all our virus protection, intrusion protection systems, all of our virus software is still up to date so we are still not sure how they got in. The FBI is currently in our offices trying to figure that out,” said Merolla.
The names, addresses and social security information of those affected were posted online for anyone to find.
All of the victims had apparently E-filed their city taxes.
According to the city, 5,369 people had been contacted about the situation as of Friday night. Another 5,017 were to be notified by Reverse Alert. The city also said it will notify by letter those who did not have a valid email or phone number on file.
Officials emphasized that even if residents do not get a notification, they should still contact the city to find out if their information was compromised. Residents should call 330-375-2311 on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or the city’s income tax office at 330-375-2290 on Sunday between noon to 4 p.m.
News of the attack left Akron residents uneasy Friday.
“They would have my social security number. They would have where we worked, where we lived, you know, all that stuff would be on file, and all they have to do is go on and they could check,” said Sandy Kitchen.
“It’s potentially terrifying in a free open society everything is predicated on the access to information, and you realize if somebody in Istanbul can affect the lives of people in Firestone Park or West Hill, it creates a lot of anxiety,” said Frank Comunale.
As the FBI works to identify the source and possibly shut down the site where the information is posted, the victims are being advised to take measures for their own protection.
“Put a freeze on your credit account so if anybody tries to open an account in your name get a mortgage buy a car, any type of second mortgage it will be frozen,” said Merolla, adding that the victims are also being directed to the Ohio Attorney General’s website for recommendations that could help avoid identity theft.
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