Bradford, PA

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Bradford City Hall nearly back to normal after hacking

By MARCIE SCHELLHAMMER

Bradford City Hall has been up and running all week after the ransomware attack last weekend. Mayor Tom Riel said Friday the replacement computers are in place.

“The computers are fully operational with just a few minor details to be worked out in the coming days,” he said. “We didn’t lose any information because it was stored in the cloud.”

While the city’s data was not jeopardized in the attack, 9 of the 11 desktop computers in city hall were destroyed.

Riel had reported at the beginning of the week that city workers reporting to work Monday morning went to turn on their computers, but they didn’t work.

The city’s IT company, Omnis Technologies, which has held the contract since 2018, found the Harmah ransomware virus had infiltrated the city’s server.

“The attack occurred sometime Sunday and basically rendered our system inoperable (Monday),” Riel said. He reported that no data was breached, but it was encrypted by the virus and the hackers demanded a payoff to restore the data.

Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary, as the data was all backed up securely on the cloud network.

Since the attack, “The city did take steps to have additional equipment installed to protect exposure of our internal computers with any such virus,” Riel said.

He mentioned, too, that the city was fortunate in that they were able to purchase refurbished computers to replace the ones that were impacted by the virus.

“The total out of pocket cost to the city was roughly $2,500,” the mayor explained. “We have a yearly contract for IT support so there has been no additional charge for that.

“All in all we came out of this relatively unscathed compared to what the consequences could have been had the city not been prepared for this,” Riel added.

City police are working with state and federal authorities to try to determine the source of the virus.

Attacks such as this one have become more frequent recently. The Wyoming Area School District in Luzerne County paid a hacker $38,000 to recover data from a similar encryption virus over the summer.

Estimates are that more than 500 school districts have been attacked this year. Within the past few days, the North Carolina State Bar Association has also been attacked.

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