City officials tight-lipped about scope of Oakland ransomware attack

The City of Oakland remains tight-lipped about the scope and severity of a ransomware attack that has carried into its ninth day.

Cybercriminals are holding the city's data hostage, demanding money from the city in exchange for unlocking the data.

Computer system managers for the city won't reveal publicly whether its vast database was fully backed up and protected before the ransomware attack.

The acting city administrator defended the silence at an online city council meeting on Thursday.

"Anything that we disclose, in terms of the status and our defensive mechanisms would put us and make us more vulnerable at this time," said Harold Duffy.

The fix, which experts say averages 16 days, appears to be in the early stages.

"We are anticipating that our system will be moving forward next week. Protect the network, clean it, scrub it, and then rebuild the network and put it back on the system," said Duffy.

Most, if not all government agencies, private organizations, and businesses use dozens or hundreds of SaaS applications. Instead of buying and installing it on their computers, they subscribe to SaaS applications and use them online.

It's the user's duty, not the app's duty, to protect their work product and data.

"There is no backup and recovery for your personal data or your company data on SaaS," said entrepreneur Simon Taylor.

Taylor has developed HYCU, a way to assure customer data is protected if an attack occurs.

"Out of the 17,000 services available, only five of them actually have, enterprise data protection capabilities, only five," said Taylor.

For those who pay a ransom, a quarter of them won't get their data back and the cybercriminals end up selling it on the dark web. And for those who do get their data back, it can be filled with cyber landmines.

"What they give you back is your data, but involved in there is even more malware that takes your system down and causes even more problems, and they hold you for ransom again," said Law and Business Professor Kevin Powers.