Mayor Ed Pawlowski on Tuesday has announced that a serious computer virus has attacked the City of Allentown’s computer systems resulting in shutting down of the financial and public safety operations. Pawlowski during an unannounced updated to the Allentown City Council said that the first attack of this virus named as Emotet was observed around a week ago. The virus has been self-replicating and pilfering the credentials like passwords for city employees.
The virus is affecting all the city systems incorporating the city’s surveillance camera network, he further added. The city has approximately 185 cameras covering different locations across the city. Ed Pawlowski also said that the experts from the renowned tech giant, Microsoft have been hired by Allentown for an initial $185,000 emergency response fee. It is being estimated that the Emotet will cost extra cost of $800,000 to $900,000 for the phase of recovery that will work on the damage caused by this virus.
City of Allentown officials said there is no proof to show that any personal info of the residents has been stolen. Ed Pawlowski along with his IT director Matthew Leibert provided the answers to different questions asked by the members of council about the virus attack. Pawlowki said that he will call an executive session with the board of council members to discuss the matter.
Just after the meeting Ed Pawlowski told that “I am not trying to in any way shape or form hide anything from the public”. “But we don’t wish to reveal how we are going to tackle with this because if it is a hacker then they can change their attack strategies”. Lebert told to the board of members “shame on us for doing a disservice to our intelligence community”. He told that the virus attack is under criminal investigation.
Ed Pawlowski told to the members of council that he could not provide more information about the strategies we have made to tackle and then remove this virus as we are not yet sure that this was an external cyberattack from a hacker or something which is an internal. We want to stop this hemorhagging, he further added.
As the City of Allentown is observing these attacks, the finance department is unable to accomplish any external banking transactions. Also, the police department cannot access databases, which are being controlled by the Pennsylvania State Police. The mayor warned the residents of the city not to open the emails as well as email attachments they receive by the name of city officials.
Councilman Courtney Robinson asked what type of virus protection the city has in their hands. To the reply, Pawlowski said that the city has a large and widespread system to deal with the cyberattacks. However, the virus has dodged the City of Allentown’s antiviral software as well as firewall. The virus named Emotet has an intelligence system built into it so it keeps changing its attacking strategies and the way it steals information from our systems. That’s why the virus has been able to avoid all the firewalls we have in our systems, Pawlowski later told to the media. He then said that we do have a good team in place working to clean the virus up. We also continuing our functions and nobody yet have observed any glitch in our service.
Councilman Julio Guridy has scolded his colleagues and council members for revealing and then discussing about the Emotet in the public. Earlier Tuesday, he told a reporter that the fixing the viruses would cost more than $1million and the city has never ever observed any such virus attack before.
The virus can enter the computer systems through a number of ways such as clicking on the emails, downloading the infected email attachments, infected software or by visiting malicious websites. Liebert also told to the council members that we are grateful that we have not been attacked by ransomware as it could be worse.
An expert in technical writing, James Watson has been studying and writing on all the latest technologies. Covering major topics like Outlook, Avg.com/Retail Internet security services, Microsoft and Antivirus, he strives to grab knowledge of even minor updates or changes occurring in the current technological world. Many publishers have published a number of articles written by him.