Freeport Town Manager Peter Joseph says there are “big gaps” to fill to better protect the municipal computer network that was offline for about a week following a June 8 ransomware attack.

Joseph said the town will look at recommendations from Portland-based information technology company Logically, which provides the town with IT support, about additional security products to protect their networks.

“The IT security professionals that we were working with throughout this incident told us that it is not possible to completely secure our systems or networks, but there are big gaps in our cyber security system that need to be filled and that involve cost analysis,” Joseph told the town council on Tuesday. “However, I think we got some of the big gaps filled. We are now looking at the medium gaps to assess the actual risk.”

“I don’t want to say that everything is great and we are out of the woods,” Joseph added. “Things can develop anytime. We will take a look at this issue in detail once the data forensic report comes out.”

Earlier this week, Joseph said the attack on the network was linked to Russian criminals and a global ransomware group. After the attack was detected, Logically shut down Freeport’s network, containing the attack. As a result, phones and online communications were disrupted across every department. 9-1-1 calls were not affected because Brunswick dispatches Freeport’s emergency services.

The town did not respond to a ransom note demanding $10,000 in cryptocurrency through ransomware group Avaddon, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Describing the attack as both scary and serious, Joseph said Tuesday that town officials were waiting for the reports from a data forensic specialist to confirm if any data was stolen.

“As of now it doesn’t look like there was any data theft. However, we noticed partial encryption of some of our files, and that was completely restored from our backup within less than a day,” Joseph said.

He highlighted that last year after a recommendation made by the department’s IT company and finance director Jessica Maloy, the town upgraded its cyber security with optional monitoring tool software.

“I wouldn’t say that the software is 100% effective,” Joseph said. “A lot of times people get notified of these attacks after receiving emails from a hacker or a criminal syndicate stating they they have their personal data and in return demand a ransom. Since we had our data backed up, we did not pay anything to the hackers.”

“I don’t think there was much consideration that we were ever going to pay, because we were able to get at it very quickly and isolate it,” Freeport Town Council Chairperson John Egan said.

Noting that Logically was quick to monitor and respond to the attack, Joseph said the entire team did a great job by shutting off the servers and taking everything offline before it could cause any damage to the town’s network.

“The early detection was a result of some very astute planning on the part of the staff,” Town Councilor Edward Bradley said.

Town officials have notified the State Cyber Crime unit about the incident but haven’t received a response.

“The state and federal law enforcement regularly deals with much more significant events on a daily basis, especially in the north-east region. It seems big to us but it doesn’t flip the radar in terms of the crimes happening that people are getting hit by,” said Joseph.

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