The Mayor of Albany held a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the ransomware cyberattack that hit the city over the weekend.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the breach was discovered on Saturday, but that her staff was working through the weekend to ensure that City Hall was up and running by the start of the work week.
According to Michael Stamas with GreyCastle Security, ransomware is essentially a computer virus that criminals use to steal files and then demand money in return, in order to regain access.
“A criminal can essentially scan the internet looking for vulnerabilities. When they identify those vulnerabilities, they are able to exploit those vulnerabilities and launch something like ransomware. It’s actually very common. We see it and respond to incidents every week,” said Stamas.
Mayor Sheehan said while this is a first for the city of Albany, she knew it was only a matter of time.
“This is the new normal and we know these types of incidents happen across the country. More than anybody probably realizes,” said Sheehan.
For that reason, she said the city’s IT Department is constantly updating their security systems and have plans in place in order to promptly and appropriately respond. NEWS10 ABC asked if that included preparation from a financial standpoint, such as Cyber Insurance, but the Mayor declined to comment.
She did, however, acknowledge that the clean up would come with an expense.
“We are collecting those costs. It’s very important that we track those costs particularly from the standpoint of what our damages are. We expect to quantify that and will make sure that we provide that information when we have it,” said the Mayor.
Mayor Sheehan said she didn’t want to get into specifics surrounding the incident or who was handling the investigation, but she did say that at this point and time there is no evidence that any personal data was compromised.
“We do not process and keep any credit card information in our systems that were impacted. So, if somebody from the public has come in here and made a credit card payment, that information is not retained on any of the systems that were impacted,” said Mayor Sheehan.
The Mayor said employee payroll was impacted, so for right now, they’re tracking their hours on paper time sheets as they work to reboot that system. She added that out of an abundance of caution the city will be offering credit monitoring services to their employees.
There were also some concerns from the Albany Police Officers Union regarding public safety, but the mayor insists that there was no interruption to police or fire services.
“There are some minor back office functions, but those don’t impact our ability to serve the public and respond to emergency calls,” said Mayor Sheehan.
The investigation is still in the early stages, but the Mayor said once they have a better idea of exactly what was compromised, they will hold another briefing to inform the public.
For now, the only services not available at City Hall would be for those seeking birth or death certificates. Instead, you will have to go to State Vital Records at 800 North Pearl St. in Menands.
If you’re looking to apply for a marriage license you can go to Troy City Hall, Colonie Town Hall, or Watervliet City Hall.