Local News

Rocky Mount investigates possible cyber attack on city's computer system

Posted August 28, 2020 6:20 p.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2020 6:29 p.m. EDT

— Rocky Mount officials are investigating a possible cyber attack on the city's computer system.

The problem emerged about two weeks ago, forcing residents to pay all their city bills in person.

But despite all the questions around what exactly is going on, the city – from town staff to the mayor and council members – refuses to answer.

Even after an emergency City Council meeting on Friday afternoon, there were no more answers for the public.

The meeting took place behind closed doors and lasted a couple of hours. A city spokesman said it was closed to the public because of 'attorney-client privilege.'

The mayor, city manager and city attorney were all there, but they all had no comment afterward.

Long lines after website issue forces locals to pay bills in person

Across the street from their meeting, the Rocky Mount Business Services Center had a far longer line than usual. Locals usually pay their city water and light bills online, but the potential cyber attack has forced them to all come stand in line – and they aren't happy about it. They want answers.

On the page of the city's website where you can pay your bills, you're met with this notice:

"The City of Rocky Mount recently experienced a computer network disruption. Online payments are currently unavailable."

Petula Epps, a local who was waiting in the long line, was not happy.

"I had to come here, take off work, come here to pay my bill in person, and it's an inconvenience because I work full time," said Epps. "No one understands why it's down. No one has said anything."

City officials have released few details, but not said whether this was a malware attack.

They did release this statement:

"We cannot provide exact data on which city services will be fully restored; however, we are dedicating all of our resources to accomplishing this goal."

It goes on to say "we have no evidence of actual or attempted misuse of personal information as a result of this incident. Should this change, the city will move quickly to notify individuals."

They also say police and emergency services continue to function as normal.

But the long line for paying bills is trying the patience of citizens.

"When we came here earlier, the line was way out to the road," said Angela Mercer.

This is the second closed-door city council meeting on the matter. City officials said staff is working 'around the clock' to fix the problem.

City officials said they'll have a news conference at 10 a.m. at City Hall tomorrow. WRAL News will bring you latest.

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