Explainer: All about the City of Pensacola’s network security incident

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — An ongoing network security incident has affected the city’s communications and services. Here’s your one-stop article to learn all about this issue.

City of Pensacola investigating ‘computer network security incident’

A ‘potential computer network security incident’

The city says it is working with local, state, and federal agencies to investigate what it calls a network security incident.

Officials first issued a press release on Saturday, saying they were investigating a potential computer network security incident impacting city phones.

According to the city, 911 and police and fire nonemergency numbers are working, and the Pensacola International Airport, as well as the Port of Pensacola, are operating as normal.

“We certainly have the right people in place to investigate and restore our services, and my job right now is to let the experts do theirs, so that’s what we will continue to do,” Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves said.

How the incident affects online bill payments

In an update Monday, officials said the city was able to get 311, the citizen support system, back up and running.

However, online bill payments, including those for Pensacola Energy and the City of Pensacola Sanitation Services, have not yet been restored.

In an update Tuesday evening, the city stated, “We have heard from many Pensacola Energy customers trying to utilize the online payment process. The network outage has affected Pensacola Energy’s online payment capabilities and all payment processing capabilities.

“Pensacola Energy’s standard billing practices provide customers with a generous grace period, and penalties will not be assessed during this time.”

According to the city, disconnects on delinquent accounts will also be deferred until all payment receiving and processing capabilities have been restored and all payments received during the network outage have been processed.

How to reach City of Pensacola departments during ‘security incident’

The suggestion: mail a check or pay in person

During this time, the city encourages customers to pay their bills with check by mail, or by check or cash in person at the City’s Customer Service Center located on the west side of City Hall, 222 W. Main Street.

“For our Sanitation Services customers, if your bill was due on or after March 15, 2024, late fees will not be assessed. Once online bill pay is restored, customers will have 3 business days to pay their bill before late fees will be imposed,” the city said in a release.

The release added that their “primary focus is not to penalize people unable to remotely access services during this outage.”

UPDATE: Baldwin County hit-and-run survivor home from hospital, suspect in jail

Remembering the cyber attack of 2019

In 2019, the city was the victim of a ransomware cyber-attack investigated by the FBI.

Mayor Reeves says procedures were put into place following that incident.

“I can say with very strong confidence that we are in a better position today in terms of our structure, in terms of our operational plan to handle something like this than we were a few years ago,” Reeves said.

Reeves says it is too early to determine if any citizen’s information has been released.

The city says they’re still waiting for an estimate of when all services will be fully restored.

In the meantime, the city has provided alternative phone numbers for impacted departments.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WKRG News 5.