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One Week After Birmingham’s Computer Network Disruption, ‘Multiple Questions’ Remain

Woods was recently named the deputy director of the Department of Human Resources. (Adobe Stock)

The Birmingham Times

Thursday marked one week since a computer network disruption delivered a significant challenge to Birmingham city workers and services and it’s still unclear what happened.

The city put out a statement Thursday that said in part, “City of Birmingham offices remain open, and staff is committed to serving the public despite a network disruption first announced a week ago. As previously stated, essential services including 911, police, fire, household garbage pick up, and bulk trash/brush pickup have remained operational throughout this period without interruption for the public.”

Police officers say the outage has limited them in some areas, such as checking to see if a vehicle has been reported stolen or if a person has outstanding warrants, according to AL.com.

City spokesman Rick Journey on Wednesday offered an update in a memo to city employees. Journey assured employees that their pay would be uninterrupted, and there is no known sensitive employee data breach.

“We know many of you have multiple questions,” Journey wrote in the memo that was obtained by AL.com.

“We are committed to providing accurate and complete information for you with the understanding that this very detailed process is in its early stages and ongoing.”

In its memo to the public on Thursday, the city said, it was “processing all license renewals and accepting tax payments (cash and check only at this time). Individuals seeking new business licenses may face delays due to limitations to some systems. Individuals with questions about taxing and licensing matters may call 205.254.2198 for assistance.

“Permits are being accepted, reviewed and issued by the Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits. Individuals should expect some delays based on the complexity of individual cases.

“Again, all transactions are cash and check only at this time.

The city wishes to thank the public for their patience as we continue to work to restore operations to full capacity.”

While the city continues to provide information about the nature of the outage, other area entities have been the subject to ransomware attacks, including the Jefferson County School System in 2023.

Ransomware is a form of malware that is designed make systems unusable. Hackers then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.

An attack affected services at the Cullman County Revenue Commissioner’s office in 2023. Montgomery County leaders in 2017 paid $37,000 in a ransomware attack to retrieve its data from criminal hackers.