In less than 24hrs after a Saudi airman shot and killed three members of the U.S. military at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, a cyberattack has forced the Florida city to shut down many of its systems, with the mayor declining to confirm or deny whether the city is being hit by a sort of a ransom attack.
Following the shooting spree last week at the Naval air station in Pensacola by 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who shot and killed three people, roughly 300 Saudi Arabian military aviation students were grounded as part of a “safety stand-down.” There are currently about 850 Saudi students in the United States for military training.
Speaking during an interview granted by Reuters Navy spokeswoman Lt. Andriana Genualdi said that “The safety stand-down and operational pause commenced Monday for Saudi Arabian aviation students,”
Genualdi emphasized that the grounding include three different military facilities: Naval Air Station Pensacola, Naval Air Station Whiting Field and Naval Air Station Mayport, all in Florida; adding that while it was unclear when the Saudi students would be allowed to fly again, their classroom training was expected to resume soon.
Same city is experiencing a cyber incident, and have to resort to disconnecting most of its city network until the issue is resolved,” this was as contained on the city Facebook page and website.
The city of Pensacola’s spokeswoman Kaycee Lagarde was also quoted saying that “I can confirm the city of Pensacola has experienced a cyberattack and we’ve disconnected much of our city’s network until the issue can be resolved, As a precaution we have reported the incident to the federal government.”
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson was cited by CNN affiliate WEAR as saying, “We are at this point going in two different directions. We’re working it from a legal standpoint, trying to work it forensically that way, trying to figure out who this was. And two where do we go from here in putting our system back together.”
It was gathered that some of the systems affected are city emails and some city phones, 311 service response and online payments to Pensacola Energy, sanitation services and other entities. Pensacola noted that it “remains operational” and stressed that “911 is NOT impacted.”
If the incident is a ransomware attack, Pensacola will join a long list of municipalities victimized by hackers seeking payment in exchange for restoring compromised files.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.