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Albany spent over $300K recovering from cyberattack

September 13, 2019 07:46 PM

ALBANY - On Friday, officials with the city of Albany spoke about the amount spent in response to the ransomware attack that took place in March.

A FOIL request submitted to the city was answered on Friday. Earlier this month, NewsChannel 13 inquired about the amount of funds used to cover overtime for employees working to re-enter lost data, hardware and software system upgrades, credit monitoring services for city employees and professional cybersecurity services.

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A document was sent with the following cost breakdown:

  • Employee overtime - $0
  • Hardware/software investments - $53,805.79
  • Credit monitoring services $23,377.50
  • Professional Services - $84,575.25

Those costs total a little over $161,000. However, at an event Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said they've spent well over $300,000 in response to the attack.  NewsChannel 13 asked city hall for a complete breakdown of those costs, but did not hear back on Friday.

The city still hasn’t said how much ransomware hackers were demanding when they locked up all their systems in late March. The FBI and other cybersecurity experts generally advise against paying the ransom. Though cybersecurity experts that spoke with NewsChannel 13 in March said ransomware hackers typically do restore the system after receiving money from the individual, business, or municipality.

Despite the unforeseen expenses, Sheehan said they still expect to balance the budget this year.

"Every year, you have unexpected events. Sometimes, it's a catastrophic storm, this past year it was an unexpected ransomware attack," Sheehan said. “We have made investments well over $300,000 in investments that we had to make as a result of that. Investments to rebuild what we had and investments to make sure but it doesn't happen again."

Dozens of other municipalities across the country have been hit with similar attacks this year. Many of them spent millions to recover and were offline weeks.

Sheehan said prior investment in cybersecurity software and having a cyberattack protocol in place definitely reduced recovery time.

At the time of the attack, Sheehan said misinformation about the cause was spread around, some employees saying they believed the city's combined systems led to the problem.

"What our employees learned is that they are the ones that can make us vulnerable. So we've done a lot of training we've helped them to realize how they can make us vulnerable when they get that email and it just doesn't look right and then click on it anyway, they are opening us up to the challenges that we're trying to protect against," Sheehan said.

Sheehan said city employees have since gotten phishing emails that appear to be from her, asking them to click on something. She said they now know to ignore them.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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