Mail server

Indianapolis Housing Agency server hacked by cyber thieves | WIBQ The Talk Station

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Housing Agency’s internal information and messaging system has been down since at least Monday after it was hacked by cyber thieves.

“I understand there has been an intrusion into the computer system,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said. “I don’t know the technical aspects, but I know it’s serious business. One that IHA takes seriously and one that the City provides all the support IHA needs to resolve the issue.

The personal information of approximately 25,000 IHA residents as well as vendor and employee data as well as financial transactions shared with the Department of Housing and Urban Development are likely at risk.

“We find this cyberattack offensive and are in communication with the housing authority and will offer any assistance within our authority to help the IHA resolve this issue,” read a statement from HUD which provides the local agency with the housing more than $70 million a year to provide housing. for low-income residents of Marion County.

The IHA and federal investigators are trying to determine the identity of the hacker and requests to release control of the server.

One expert said the average cost to fix a data breach was $4.4 million.

In 2016, Anderson’s city information systems were hacked.

This breach cost the Anderson city government a $21,000 ransom plus another $170,000 to repair the damage.

“You would think especially in the public sector where, after all, they are civil servants and of course they try to do a good job but, at the end of the day, they are the guardians of our information about the data of our citizens,” said Scott Shackelford, a professor at the IU Kelley business school. “If anything, there’s even a higher responsibility to protect that, but, of course, the resources don’t always meet that expectation.”

The IHA has been troubled for years, amid federal financial audits and reviews, the subject of a federal whistleblower complaint, and operating at the whim of private investors who have canceled their loans or have decided to take over underperforming properties, have an excessive number of vacant units, are run down or in poor condition and plagued by crime and mismanagement as the agency has experienced an exodus of employees.

IHA’s acting executive director, public housing veteran Marcia Lewis, recently extended her temporary assignment for a year until 2023 while Mayor Hogsett delayed his search for his permanent replacement even though the agency sells its interests in the properties or contracts out on-site management.

The risk of publicizing the hack is to warn cyber thieves that the attacked agency and its customers are aware that their data has been compromised while informing victims to take preventive measures to protect their information.

“As soon as the hack happens, time starts ticking and, unfortunately, that means people’s information, their identity, could be compromised almost immediately,” Shackelford said. “There has to be a balance there, but you would like to think, especially since we are sitting here with a lot of experience under our belts, that we would lean towards responsibility and hopefully we should have a response plan in place to ensure any damage is minimized as much as possible.

“You can put a fraud alert on your credit report first,” Shackelford advised. “This makes it much more difficult for criminals, for example, to open new accounts in your name, as there is going to be a double check that needs to take place before they do. You might also consider freezing your credit.

Mayor Hogsett said he was confident the impact of the IHA data breach would be localized because the city’s information systems are separate from those of the IHA.

“Obviously that worries me,” he said. “We want to protect the information, we want to minimize and limit the intrusion, eliminate it completely, and we’re providing resources to support IHA’s efforts in this regard.”

IHA employees contacted FOX59 News to report that they had worked all week but were unable to process their work due to the system downtime.

Residents have also complained of not being able to move into units or resolve property issues due to the email outage.