Providence officials: No sensitive information stolen during website hack

(Photo: generic downtown Providence)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence officials are working to determine who hacked the city’s website on Saturday.

A screen grab of the site over the weekend showed a hacker offering to sell “all sensitive data and database” collected.

City officials said Monday the hacker asked for a $1,500 to $2,000 ransom, which was not paid. Officials are also stressing that no sensitive information was actually stolen.

“At this point, it was all on the public side of the web,” Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare told Eyewitness News.

Commissioner Pare said the hacker has nothing sensitive to sell because he or she only gained access to public information.

Cyber security expert Patrick Laverty sat down with Eyewitness News Monday. He said it does not appear that ProvidenceRI.com was targeted.

prov web site hack

“There are people out there that look for any vulnerability in any kind of site that can find,” Laverty said. “And this just happens to be the one that somebody found.”

Rhode Island State Police and the FBI are working with city officials to find out more information about the hack, but Laverty said it’s tough to find a culprit unless someone takes credit.

“A lot of hackers are really good at hiding their identity on the internet,” he said.” And making it virtually impossible to figure out where they’re at.”

Both Laverty and Pare said it does not appear the hack was very complicated. According to Pare, the city is going to work to increase cybersecurity.

“It’s an area where we’ll look at – building even more security so it doesn’t repeat itself,” the commissioner said.

According to Laverty, this situation in Providence provides a good opportunity for other cities and towns to take a closer look at the vulnerabilities in their sites to ensure a hacker doesn’t hit them as well.

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