Port Lavaca City Hall’s server fell at the hands of the Russian ryuk virus last week.

The city’s Mayor Jack Whitlow said city officials are scrubbing the servers of the virus to get their system back into working order. The city has already racked up a nearly $50,000 bill, most of which insurance will cover.

“We are getting most of our system up and running, but we are recovering some of that data right now,” Whitlow said.

The attack took down the city’s billing system including the online and auto pay systems, which are still being updated and cleaned.

“We’re going to be down for a little while,” Whitlow said.

Water, sewer and the police department’s systems were not affected by the virus.

Whitlow said new servers, routers and computers are being purchased to replace the infected software, and it will take some time to replace.

“It may take a while to get completely up to date,” he said.

The virus entered city hall through the email system.

While information technology personnel were cleaning the system, the virus took down the local government’s server.

“They come in and encrypt files,” Whitlow said. “It’s very, very fast.”

Port Lavaca is not alone when it comes to cyber attacks. Jackson County suffered a cyber attack from hackers in May 2019.

Whitlow said information is not being stolen or compromised through the virus. It is designed to encrypt files and hold them for ransom.

Port Lavaca officials are not handling the ransom negotiations, Whitlow said he will leave that to the FBI.

He said he does not plan on the city paying a ransom, which started at about $200,000.

The information, if not recovered, will need to be manually entered into the system.

“I’d rather pay the people in town to fix it and keep the money in the community,” Whitlow said.

Samantha Douty is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate. She grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from UT-Arlington with a bachelor's in journalism.

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