Oakland police officers seek damages suffered in ransomware attack on city

Oakland police officers have filed a claim against the city for damages suffered due to the ransomware attack on the city in February, officials with the police union said Monday.

The claim was filed Thursday by attorneys for the Oakland Police Officers' Association, which represents more than 700 officers.

The union is asking for monetary compensation as well as credit monitoring services, bank monitoring services, credit restoration services and identity theft insurance.

"Having to file this legal claim is disappointing," said police union President Barry Donelan in a statement. "Oakland employees trusted the city with their personal and confidential data, and the city failed them by releasing it through a combination of incompetence and negligence."   City officials, including the mayor's office, said last week that they would meet with the police union following a threat of litigation.

As of Monday, there hasn't been a meeting, but union officials said they are optimistic a meeting will occur.

A spokesperson for Mayor Sheng Thao on Monday referred a request for comment to City Attorney Barbara Parker's office.

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Parker's office did not have a comment Monday, saying the office just received the claim and has not had time to review it. The city was closed Friday for Cesar Chavez Day.

The ransomware attackers released private, personal information of police officers, Donelan said. Reportedly, other employees' private information was released, too.

The attack started Feb. 8. The attackers crippled the city's information technology systems and demanded ransom to free the systems.


City of Oakland posts statement on ransomware attack, as hackers begin posting data online

The City of Oakland Monday acknowledged that its servers have been hijacked by a hacker group called Play, in a cyberattack that has crippled the city's systems and compromised private data.

Attorneys for the police union said the city was repeatedly warned in the past and recently of "significant deficiencies in the security of its information technology systems," according to the claim filed Thursday.

The claim was filed by the police union's attorneys Rains, Lucia, Stern, St. Phalle and Silver and is a precondition for filing a lawsuit against the city, attorney Rockne Lucia Jr. said.

"We are currently evaluating all of our options and will make a determination on how to protect the interests of the members of the OPOA in the next few weeks," Lucia said by email. "We remain hopeful, that the city will acknowledge the devastation caused by the data breach and come to some arrangement to protect the interests of these employee victims."

City officials have not updated the city's website since March 22 with any additional information on the ransomware attack.

Experts and law enforcement are working together to help the city recover, the city's spokesperson said last week, adding that the city has communicated with employees.

"We've sent regular email updates to all employees, responded to frequently asked questions, hosted two employee information sessions, posted frequent website updates, and set up a dedicated call center and email inbox to respond to our employees' questions.

"In addition, we sent formal notification letters outlining the specific data that was breached as well as resources that we made available to those who were impacted both by email and in the mail," the spokesperson said.

City officials said in these types of challenges they must balance transparency and the integrity of the investigation. Officials said they will continue to share information with employees and the community.

People who were employees between July 2010 and January 2022 who have not received a letter are urged to email cyberfaq@oaklandca.gov to get information about impacts to them and available resources for them.

The same employees can contact a call center Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time for information. The phone number is (866) 869-1861.