Hackers Steal $4.2 Million from Oklahoma Police Pension

FBI launches investigation into cyberattack; pension claims it’s ‘certain the stolen funds will be recovered.’

The Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System announced this week that it has suffered a cyberattack that saw hackers do away with $4.2 million from the pension’s $1 billion in holdings.

“OLERS was recently a victim of a cybercrime where $4.2 million was illegally stolen,” the fund wrote in a statement on its website. “We notified the FBI, who is conducting an active investigation of the crime.”

“However, we are certain the stolen funds will be recovered. Most importantly, no pension benefits to members or beneficiaries have been impacted or put at risk. All benefits will continue to be paid in a timely fashion as always.”

OLERS Executive Director Duane Michael told The Oklahoman that the pension had recovered $477,000 of the lost funds so far. He specified that the culprit(s) stole funds being managed by investment managers working on behalf of OLERS.

OLERS provides pensions to approximately 1,500 retirees, including state highway troopers, state agents, park rangers, and other officers.

The hackers were able to access one of the retirement system’s employees’ email accounts, and as such, employees of the pension are due to receive training on cybercrime prevention initiatives.

Targeted cybercrime on US pension funds is nothing new; in 2017, hackers stole 103 retiree account containing sensitive information from the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System. In August 2019, the City of Austin Employees’ Retirement System suffered a hack where a member’s account was compromised, potentially exposing the personal information of other members.

Cybersecurity firm Recorded Future alleges that municipalities have reported 73 ransomware attacks in 2019, up from 54 in 2018. Such vulnerability to cyberattacks is making credit rating agencies wary and giving a negative impression to the pensions’ ratings. Moody’s rates Oklahoma Aa2, and S&P rates them AA—both equal ratings in measure.

All state agencies in Oklahoma are currently being transitioned into a unified cybersecurity program as part of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s agenda for his administration. Roy Rogers, the agency’s president, asserted that “if push comes to shove,” the fund will be able to recover its losses through its insurance coverage, in a statement to The Oklahoman.

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