The town of Berwick is recovering from an email virus that has affected its external communications for close to a month.
At the town’s Aug. 26 council meeting, chief administrative officer Don Regan reported the invasive malware program turned Berwick’s email system “into a spam generator.”
He said he believes the interference originated someplace in China and wasn't aware of the problem until receiving a response to an email that had not originated with the town.
"Malware" is an abbreviated term for ‘malicious software,” which is specifically designed to gain access to a computer without the knowledge of the owner.
Community development director Julie Glaser agreed the malware attack has “been very, very distressing” and “taxing on our ability to be productive.”
She said emails sent by staff were not getting to recipients as assumed nor was staff aware they were not receiving emails until the problem was detected.
While no sensitive personal or administrative data was compromised by the hack, all the town’s email accounts have been blacklisted by the provincial government and will not be reinstated until a fix has been made.
Regan turned to Kings County IT specialists for support. They are now in the process of moving the town’s email system inside a more secure domain to offer better protection for the town’s computers. The invasion forced the town to invest $1,000 in updated software and Regan anticipates there will be further costs for the county's IT support.
All town staff and councilors will get new email addresses as part of the remediation, which Regan hopes to have completed by the end of the month.