Dublin-based Patelco Credit Union hit with ransomware attack

Dublin-based Patelco Credit Union, one of the largest credit unions in the Bay Area, says its banking system suffered a ransomware attack over the weekend. Patelco says it has shut down its system, as it works with a cybersecurity team to recover access to its data.  

"Well, I have no access to my account, and it’s very inconvenient," said Alex, a Patelco customer in Santa Clara

Some customers of Patelco Credit Union say they’re frustrated after the banking institution suffered a ransomware attack on Saturday. The credit union says it temporarily shut down customer access to electronic transactions like transfers, direct deposits, balance inquiries and bill payments.

"I have my credit cards, bills, everything. We had no access to the ATM. I went inside, and they told me that there was nothing that I could do. I can’t even check my balances, basically," said Alex. 

"It’s upsetting that it affects the common person, that people will just hack into their system for whatever reason," said Alexander Ramey, a Patelco customer from Mountain View. 

Patelco says it’s working with a third party cybersecurity team to investigate the breach and get back to normal operations as soon as possible. Tech expert and San Jose State Univ. Professor Ahmed Banafa says most ransomware attacks occur when someone in the organization clicks on a corrupt link or file via email, giving hackers access to the system. He says hackers usually ask for payment in cryptocurrency to remove the encryption.

"Today they announced it was ransomware. A ransomware, technically speaking, where all the computers of an organization will be encrypted. There will be a message on the screen saying this computer is encrypted, and you cannot access the files," said Banafa. 

With 500,000 Patelco customers at risk of their personal information being exposed, Banafa says there’s no way to tell how long it’ll take for the bank to recover. He says customers need to be alert until the breach is resolved.

"Monitor your credit. Make sure there’s no new alert about a new credit card opened in your name, no new loans or new financial institution opened with an account," said Banafa.   

Patelco says customers can get cash from its branch ATMs, but customers say there’s a $500 limit, and they may need to drive to a location outside their usual area. Branches are still open, but employees can’t access customer account information. 

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