A workers sits a computer at the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. The center serves as the hub for the federal government’s cyber situational awareness, incident response, and management center for any malicious cyber activity. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

A workers sits a computer at the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. The center serves as the hub for the federal government’s cyber situational awareness, incident response, and management center for any malicious cyber activity. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Kenai, Soldotna boost cybersecurity

The cities of Soldotna and Kenai have boosted security on their entity’s digital infrastructure after a detrimental attack affected the Matanuska-Susitna Borough network earlier this summer.

The Mat-Su Borough is still reeling from the damage of a malware attack discovered July 31. The borough’s entire network, 150 servers, 500 workstations, and computers had to be rebuilt and restored. Borough services are slowly coming back online, with the most essential services being restored at the end of September, and into the first week of October, according to a Sept. 30 update from the Mat-Su Borough.

To prevent such an attack on city networks, both Soldotna and Kenai are including more training for their employees.

In the wake of the Mat-Su malware attack, Kenai is now requiring their employees to take part in additional training that includes fake phishing emails and other scenarios for employees to be aware of, city manager Paul Ostrander said.

“You’re never 100 percent secure,” Ostrander said. “You prepare as well as you can. Training our employees is part of that.”

In Soldotna, city manager Stephanie Queen said the city does several things to protect IT infrastructure against cyber attacks, including an employee training.

“Phishing emails are particularly common, and hackers have become much more sophisticated in recent years,” Queen said. “These emails can be difficult to detect, often appearing as if they’re from a real person you know, sometimes even a co-worker from within our organization. Without thinking, a person can click on an attachment that has a virus or malware embedded, that then runs in the background of the system for weeks or months, collecting keystrokes and sensitive information such as passwords and login credentials.”

In Soldotna, the required training has been in place for over five years and occurs both during the initial hire and then annually thereafter.

“We have to stay diligent, and create a culture where our employees are skeptical of any unsolicited emails that have attachments,” Queen said.

Queen said the city has invested in off-site storage for data and files, which has been off-site for about six months.

“If our primary network is breached and the data is lost, we would hopefully be able to revert back to an earlier version and suffer only a minor loss of time and productivity,” Queen said.

Soldotna has also periodically brought in outside consultants to evaluate their system for potential weaknesses and improvements.

“Though we have a full-time IT Manager, the technology and the threats continue to evolve, and it’s helpful to have professionals with expertise in these areas to make sure we’re keeping up with the times.”

More in News

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Earthquake Center provides information on a 5.1 magnitude earthquake that struck at approximately 8:18 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. The quake struck approximately 17 miles southeast of Redoubt volcano or 41 miles southwest of Kenai, Alaska, at a depth of 72.8 miles. (Screenshot)
Quake near Redoubt shakes peninsula

The quake was centered 41 miles southwest of Kenai.

From left, John Walsh, John Skelton and Pat Broaders perform at the annual Winter Concert of Traditional Irish Music at Kenai Peninsula College in Kenai, Alaska, on Jan. 24, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Irish musicians return to peninsula

John Walsh, Pat Broaders and Brenda Castles will perform Friday

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters during a news briefing on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Dunleavy said he doesn’t see his acceptance of former President Donald Trump’s endorsement as hurting his relationship with the state’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial last year and whom Trump has vowed to fight in her reelection bid. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer,File)
Dunleavy says work with Murkowski endures despite Trump nod

Trump last month praised Dunleavy and offered his endorsement, provided that Dunleavy does not endorse Murkowski

The Homer City Council asks Jan Keiser, Public Works Department director, questions about the Homer Green Infrastructure Management System during the Jan. 10, 2022, worksession. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Letting nature do what it does best

New green infrastructure project to solve drainage issues

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speak at the Kenai City Council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Due to COVID spike, state funds to be used to cover city administrative leave

COVID cases are up 38% from last week, and have risen significantly since mid-December.

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is photographed at the Kenai Peninsula Clarion office in Kenai, Alaska, on Sept. 25, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Pierce joins race for governor

The borough mayor notified local officials in an email Thursday

Laura Dewey’s art is on display at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Art of the wild

New Kenai visitor center show features the vivid colors of nature

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, Jan.19, 2022, in Washington. In a rebuff to former President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court is allowing the release of presidential documents sought by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)
Supreme Court allows Jan. 6 committee to get Trump docs

Following the high court’s action, there is no legal impediment to turning over the documents

Most Read