AKRON, Ohio - Cyber hackers from Turkey hacked into the city of Akron's website and replaced city messages with politically-motivated ones on Thursday. Also, nearly 8,000 taxpayers had their personal information stolen including their names, addresses, and social security numbers.
The city of Akron is working to get its website back up and running. There are still error messages, but the message from Turkish hackers that some residents saw on Thursday is gone.
"We get hits every day. Someone trying to get in, and until yesterday we thwarted all attempts to get in," Deputy Mayor Richard Merolla said.
The city said the hackers also accessed a sensitive internal database, and posted the information online.
The city believes taxpayers who filed their income tax return through the city's website are vulnerable. While the victims are estimated at 8,000, the city continues to check if there are more.
"That's not good. Not good at all. I wouldn't doubt that mine is one of them," said Fred Jessee.
"We as people don't need to be leaked out," said Devante Coats.
The city of Akron contacted 5,369 people by email. An additional 5,614 will be notified by reverse alert calls Friday night. Those without email or phone numbers on file will receive a letter.
"We thought we were secure. We never would have allowed anyone in without a fight," Merolla said.
Joe DeSantis responds to these types of attacks for SecureState .
We asked: Are these hackers really good at this or are cities not doing enough?
"It's a combination of both. The hackers aren't getting any better, but the tools they get are more automated. There's a lot less thinking involved, which is why you seen an increase in attacks," DeSantis said.
DeSantis said many businesses don't take enough steps until the hackers strike and cause damage. Once that happens, it's hard to restore trust.
"It starts to reduce the confidence of people accessing the website," DeSantis said.
DeSantis expects these attacks will continue, and many companies and cities are at risk.
"If you have sensitive data, or you are a significant avenue of information on the Internet, you can be targeted. You can be attacked. And your data can be stolen," DeSantis said.
Protecting your identity
If you have not received an email from the city of Akron and still have questions, call 311. On your mobile phone, the number is 330-375-2311. You can also call the city's income tax office at 330-375-2290.
You can pick up on fraudulent activity by periodically checking your credit report. You can do it for free once a year through Annual Credit Report. There are three credit agencies that participate in this free report, and if you check your credit from one agency every four months, you can keep tabs on your credit year round. If you do this, always access the check through Annual Credit Report to ensure it's free.
Identity Theft Resource Center 888-400-5530
Ohio Attorney General's Office 800-282-0515
If you are a victim, you may want to add a security freeze to your file. This will prevent new lines of credit from being opened in your name. You need to request this freeze through the three credit bureaus.
Equifax : 800-685-1111 (Option 3), Equifax Security Freeze, P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348
Experian : 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742), Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen TX 75013 or
TransUnion : 888-909-8872, TransUnion, Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834