Computer virus disrupts several Mat-Su services

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough was hit hard with a computer virus this week that has disrupted some borough services.

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That includes outages for borough phones, email and computers, which network managers took offline as they try to isolate the virus and prevent their systems from being further compromised. The borough says several departments unable to use their computers have turned to more-manual systems like using typewriters or hand-writing receipts.

IT Director Eric Wyatt says the virus’s disruption is serious enough that it constitutes a cybercrime, and the FBI’s cybercrimes unit has been investigating.

Wyatt says it’s so far unclear if the virus is causing borough computers to send private information elsewhere.

“Well that’s always possible, and that’s part of our investigation… that is a common pattern of a lot of these viruses, so we are investigating that,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt says the borough does not store credit card information on servers that are connected to the internet. Resident information like property records are already available publicly anyway. But he says there is the possibility that personal information of borough employees could have been accessed.

Wyatt says it seems unlikely the virus specifically targeted the Mat-Su Borough. Instead, he thinks it was probably written to attack government computers in general, released onto the internet and happened to find a way in to the borough’s systems through a fraudulent email, known as a phishing attack.

“They attack indiscriminately, and so I really believe here at the Mat Su we are simply collateral damage,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt says his team has been able to slowly bring some systems online, but the disruptions could last as long as three weeks.

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Casey here

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