Patelco Credit Union ransomware attack disrupts banking services of nearly five lakh members



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Nearly half a lakh members of Patelco Credit Union, with branches in the Bay Area and Northern California, lost access to banking services following a ransomware attack over the weekend.

The Dublin-based credit union announced on social media at 7 a.m. Saturday that its services were unavailable, including online banking, mobile app, direct deposit, transfers, and debit and credit card transactions.

Patelco members received an email from President and CEO Erin Mendez on Sunday afternoon about a “serious security incident,” though details about the incident were not initially disclosed.

The email said the credit union is working with cybersecurity experts to assess the situation and restore services. Mendez also said an estimated time for restoration was not available.

In an email on Monday, a Patelco spokesperson clarified that the security incident was a ransomware attack that “required us to proactively shut down some of our day-to-day banking systems to contain and rectify the issue.”

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer system or network, while demanding payment to regain access. Victims who pay the ransom have no guarantee that encrypted files will be unlocked, and attacks often result in costly interruptions to operations and the loss of critical data.

Ransomware attack on Oakland city computer network Last year, personal information of thousands of current and former employees was released on the so-called dark web.

The email said Patelco members can still get cash from ATMs and that its branches and call centers are open and operating during regular business hours, although wait times are longer. Patelco also said its employees will not be able to access personal account statements during the outage.

“We have engaged a leading third-party cybersecurity forensics firm to investigate and help us recover as quickly as possible,” a Patelco spokesperson said. “Please know that our team and third-party partners are working around the clock to get back to business. We are committed to providing transparent and frequent updates to the best of our ability and to provide the best service we can, given the disruption. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this cyberattack has caused our members. We appreciate your patience and support during this difficult time.”

As of 3:30 p.m., electronic transactions such as transfers, direct deposits, balance inquiries, and online banking bill payments were unavailable, including the Zelle digital payment system. The credit union said debit and credit card transactions were “operating in a limited capacity.” In addition, both the website and mobile app were still not working.

Patelco said cash withdrawals and deposits are available through Patelco ATMs and 30,000 shared branch ATMs in the US.

The credit union said further information about the ransomware attack incident, including updates on system functionality, will be posted at patelco.org/securityupdate. As of 5 p.m. Monday, the website was unavailable.

The US Cyber ​​Threat Intelligence Integration Center says the number of ransomware attack claims worldwide in 2023 has increased by 74% compared to 2022. Meanwhile, according to a recent report, ransomware affected 66% of organizations in 2023.

Patelco is the nation's 27th largest credit union, with $9.8 billion in assets and 455,000 members and more than 1 million accounts, according to Federal Reserve data. The nonprofit credit union has 37 branches in the Bay Area and Sacramento region. It is one of the oldest credit unions in the U.S., founded in 1936 for employees of the former Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, now known as AT&T.



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