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Some private information of city personnel was compromised, but safety steps were taken post-incident

anthony rodrigues
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  The January 25 cyberattack on the City of Malden’s municipal digital information systems hit closer to home than may have been thought. Very close to home.

  Malden’s Information Technology Director Anthony Rodrigues, who oversaw a 24-hour a day, “full court press” in response to their breach, told the Malden City Council on Tuesday night that his own wife’s personal Social Security number was compromised, along with a small number of other city personnel. Malden Councillor-at-Large Karen Colón Hayes also revealed that she, too, was a victim of the cyber-breach.

  Rodrigues assured the Councillors that all those whose personal information was compromised in the attack were getting extensive follow-up safety assistance and that no reports of any malfeasance with any type of fraud to the Malden municipal employees had been reported to date. “It’s an ongoing investigation and we are very much on top of it,” Rodrigues said.

  The major fear in the aftermath of the cyberattack was a potential “ransomware” operation, whereby an outside cyberattacker would freeze or encrypt city digital records or other information and either force a literal ransom payoff to cyber criminals, or either keep encrypted or destroy the records/information. “Unfortunately, it happens every day, all over the world. We were lucky we identified and caught the breach before it went further,” Rodrigues said.

  The Malden IT director explained that Malden has a robust protection system using Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is stronger and more protective from cyberattacks than systems in many communities nearby and around Massachusetts. “We were prepared for this type of attack and we will continue with post-incident steps when the next one comes,” Rodrigues said.

  “It is not if the next attempt comes, it is when,” he added.

  The cyberattack shut down nearly all of the city’s Informational Technology (IT) systems for a period of time on January 25, including internet access and municipal telephones, in addition to other IT programs city employees use to perform necessary tasks on a daily basis.

  While the City of Malden’s telephone system and email communication availability were restored quickly, municipal employees still had limited access to some city IT internal systems. An incident response team comprised of City of Malden police assets assigned to the FBI and their counterparts in the State Police and Secret Service cyber-crime units collected digital forensic data and assess scope of any potential data breach.

  More information on Director Rodrigues’ presentation will appear in next week’s Advocate.

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