KTUU – It was Friday, July 27 when City of Valdez employees first realized something was terribly wrong with the city’s computer network. 10 days before, Mat-Su Borough IT staff discovered activity from malicious code in its network.
“It didn’t take us but a moment to realize that there was a good chance we were being attacked with the same ransomware,” Valdez City Manager Elke Doom said. “…the first thing you typically do is you go ahead and do an update, you run your virus software, and…that’s when it will really infiltrate and seize your system.”
“We reached out to them (the third-party security company,) and through the dark web, anonymously, they reached out to the cyber attackers,” Doom said. “And they said ‘We understand you’ve seized my client’s system. What is it you’re looking for? And they (the attackers) came back with ‘Are you a hospital? Are you a bank? What are you?’ Trying to decide what they wanted to charge us for ransom.”
The attackers, assuming they had ransomwared a small company, decided on a relatively modest ransom of four bitcoin, around $26,000 at the time.
While Mat-Su Borough officials ultimately decided against paying the requested $400,000 ransom, the City of Valdez decided the need outweighed the cost and paid the requested ransom.
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