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City of Providence network went down this week. Officials say ‘no evidence’ of ransomware

Billing and payment capabilities were affected for more than 24 hours, and email and remote logins remain offline.

Providence City Hall
Providence City HallLane Turner/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — Aspects of the network that handles some operations for the city of Providence were shut down this week, the Globe has found.

The issue affected email communications as well as billing and payment capabilities. Therefore, the city could not accept tax payments for more than 24 hours, nor did they accept checks or other payment methods, according to city officials. The ability to pay taxes online, and receive a receipt for the payment, was restored Thursday, according to city officials.

Email and remote logins for city hall staff remains down, according to Ben Smith, a city spokesman.

The network issue was detected on Tuesday afternoon. The cause has not yet been identified as of Thursday afternoon.

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“We can’t say for sure” what caused the issue, said Smith. He said there was “no evidence” of ransomware and that the city’s IT team is working to resolve the issue. Smith said there was also no evidence that people or businesses that have recently paid property taxes should be concerned about any private information being compromised.

It’s unclear if the city is working with any outside investigators to find the cause of the issue or resolve it.

The city’s official website, providenceri.gov, was never impacted by the attack, and remained available to the public.

Both 311 services for city services and 911 services for Providence’s Police dispatch were not impacted by the network issue, according to city officials.

During his weekly coronavirus briefing, Governor Dan McKee was asked by a reporter about cyberattacks on municipalities, which have been on the rise.

“We need to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the systems that we have in place,” said McKee.

When asked if there’s been an increase in phishing or suspicious emails, Smith said “We get phishing emails all the time.”

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He said while the city has experienced network issues in the past, the problem was typically solved overnight.

The network being down, he said, “has never been for this long.”


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.