EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The south-central borough of Matanuska-Susitna, Alaska, was struck by a cyberattack last week, The Washington Post reports. In a damage control effort, Mat-Su government staff have disabled their computers and have reverted to typewriters.

Motherboard reports that in addition to the archaic typewriters, other Mat-Su entities are being forced into a technological dark age – at the town landfill, staff must manually track scale weight and fees, and the pool and libraries are taking cash and check payments only.

The crippling ransomware infection occurred in mid-July when hackers took over the borough’s desktop computers, servers, and telephone and email systems. The borough has responded by disconnecting their servers from each other in addition to disconnecting the borough itself from the internet. They have also added a warning banner on their website homepage that reads: “Mat-Su Declares Disaster. Worst of its Kind Cyber Attack.”

The BitPaymer ransomware that infected the computers was described by Mat-Su IT director Eric Wyatt as a “multi-pronged, multi-vectored attack,” and noted that it was “not a single virus but multiple aspects of viruses together including trojan horse, Cryptolocker, time bomb, and dead man’s switch.”

That attack description appears to fit the definition of a ‘classic’ fifth-generation attack, as described by Gil Shwed, CEO of Check Point, in an earlier article on this site.

Wyatt stressed the severity and sophistication of the attack. “This is a very insidious, very well organized attack,” he said. “It’s not a kid in his mom’s basement.” Assembly Member Ted Leonard referred to the hacking as a “terrorist attack.”

The borough is currently working with the FBI in order to recover the stolen and encrypted data.

Get the full story at The Washington Post.