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Kansas City mayor confirms 'suspicious activity' on city's IT network; unclear if data on server was accessed

City still investigating if activity is a cyberattack
KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas
Posted at 4:31 PM, May 15, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said Wednesday ongoing outages in city systems were caused by "suspicious activity" detected on the city's information technology systems.

Lucas said the city became aware of the activity last week, and officials immediately shut down parts of the network to secure the system.

Shutting down the network caused outages in some of KCMO's systems, including the KCMO Municipal Court and KC Water, among others.

"This proactive measure resulted in outages to certain operations, but was necessary to help to protect the security and integrity of our systems, and to allow us to further our investigation into the cause and potential impact of the issue," Lucas said in a press conference addressing the outages.

Lucas said the city immediately consulted with outside cybersecurity experts and internal IT teams to investigate the matter.

He also said the city has been in communication with multiple law enforcement agencies about the issue. KSHB 41 previously learned that the FBI was among those agencies involved.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said the agency was aware of the "cyber event" and that they "stand by to assist the City of Kansas City however possible."

Lucas said it's too early in the investigation to know if activity had any impact on data stored on the city's IT servers.

"Determining whether it has is our top priority," Lucas said.

Asked if the incident is a ransomware or any other type of cyberattack, Lucas also said it was too early to know.

"At this point, we're very early in the process," Lucas said. "We've notified law enforcement; we're working with them in connection with any issues raised, and we'll wait for those details in our further discussion."

Lucas was also asked about frustrations from KCMO who've had trouble with their water payments.

He said the city has implemented a 30-day grace period for customers while the issues is addressed.

Customers also have the option to pay their bills in-person and through mail.

KCMO will also add pre-paid envelopes on customer bills for the month of May so customers know what options they have to pay.

"We're trying all we can do while recognizing that there certainly was a substantial incident with which we had to deal to make sure there was no regular impact on Kansas Citians," Lucas said.

Kansas City is the latest in a string of government entities forced to navigate information technology issues.

Earlier this month, Wichita, Kansas - the largest city in the state - fell victim to a hack on the city's computer system. KMUW-FM in Wichita reported last week federal prosecutors charged Dimitry Khoroshev and his company, LockBit, in connection to 26 alleged crimes connected to the Wichita attack.

In April, on the same day Jackson County voters headed to the polls to cast their ballot in the stadium sales tax question, Jackson County Executive Frank White said county systems had also been victim to a hack.

Also last month, KC Scout, a traffic management partnership between the Kansas and Missouri Departments of Transportation said a computer hack knocked out their systems. Officials say it will be months before the system, which provides real time camera and messaging information, will be fully restored.