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Kansas City blames 'suspicious activity,' with few details, for online service outages

A man stands behind a podium that reads "Kansas City." Six people stand on the steps of City Hall behind him.
Savannah Hawley-Bates
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City's government website and online services have been partially down for nearly two weeks. Mayor Quinton Lucas did not give a cause for the outage but did say it was because of "suspicious activity."

Kansas City’s municipal website and some city services have been down for nearly two weeks, and the city won’t say exactly why. Officials are still investigating the full scope of the issue.

Parts of Kansas City’s government website are still offline after what Mayor Quinton Lucas called “suspicious activity” earlier this month. The website has been partially down since May 4, when the city’s IT department discovered the issue.

At a press conference, Lucas did not clarify what the suspicious activity entailed and would not say if it was a cyber- or ransomware attack.

“We're unable to confirm whether the network activity detected had any impact on the data stored on our servers, but determining whether it has is a top priority,” Lucas said. “There has been, we will note, no impact on our delivery of critical services at Kansas City.”

The city is still assessing the scope of the incident and is working with law enforcement to conduct an investigation.

Residents still cannot pay their water bills online, and automatic debits from accounts are stalled. The city will provide a 30-day grace period for anyone having difficulty making payments.

Until the online payment system is restored, KC Water customers can pay their bill in person, with cash or check, at the Water Services Department at 4800 E. 63rd Street from Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Permitting, job applications, bond payments and credit card payments at community centers are still down.

Earlier in the nearly two-week shutdown, the city’s 311 action center and city clerk’s website, which lists meeting times and agendas for Kansas City Council, were also down. Courts were temporarily closed and all council meetings were canceled the Tuesday following the shutdown.

Although Lucas wouldn’t say whether the city’s website was attacked, Jackson County recently experienced a ransomware attack and the city of Wichita had its website targeted by an encryption malware cyberattack. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and the Kansas state court system were also victims of recent cyberattacks.

When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
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