The borough said that beginning in mid-July, hackers seized its desktop computers, most of its servers, telephone system and email exchange. On the borough’s home page, visitors are greeted with an arresting banner: “Mat-Su Declares Disaster. Worst of its Kind Cyber Attack.”
Borough Manager John Moosey declared the cyberattack a disaster Tuesday, according to a statement by public affairs director Patty Sullivan. Moosey told members of the public at a Borough Assembly meeting that the declaration grants the borough access to its insurance, funds dedicated to emergencies and possibly the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The borough anticipates that the major disruptions caused by the cyberattack may continue for a “prolonged time.” The loss of services and productivity, the borough said, is compounded by the high cost of hiring IT specialists and the “great deal of overtime” that the borough is paying IT department staff.
Borough IT Director Eric Wyatt said the perpetrators deployed hacking tools that were the “worst of its type,” citing international cyber experts who have experience with the kind of ransomware that was used. The computer virus that infected the borough has claimed 209 previous victims, he said. “The group that we are facing that has unleashed this particular attack is a very well-organized group, and they’re using the most sophisticated tools and have done a lot of damage across the country to include us.”
The data encrypted by the hackers was turned over to the FBI, Wyatt said in a report earlier this week, in the hope that federal agents can recover the decryption keys needed to retrieve the information.