Following computer hack, Covington expected to recover most of $100,000 spent in recovery | St. Tammany community news

Covington Chief Administrative Officer Erin Bivona recently told the City Council that the city expects to recoup most of the expenses it has spent to repair and recover the municipal computer system that was part of a nationwide hack in March.

The city has incurred more than $100,000 to date in equipment upgrades and software licenses since the Ransomware attack four months ago, Bivona told members in a July 13 meeting. Covington had a cyber security insurance policy at the time of the breach, which is expected to cover most of the unfortunate costs.

Hackers, taking advantage of a weakness in the Microsoft Outlook email platform, infiltrated more than 30,000 different computer systems on March 11, rendering the machines useless and tying up vital information at each for weeks on end. A variety of networks, from doctor’s offices, retail outlets and government entities, including Covington, were hit.

Bivona told the council the recovery has been “part sprint, part marathon.” 

City officials were quick to move when the hack was discovered early on the morning of March 11. Members of the Louisiana Cyber Investigators Alliance, made up of various police and government agencies, were on hand within hours of the breach and worked for two weeks to restore municipal operations and wage recovery efforts.

It was a challenging fortnight, Bivona said, but it’s not over. She said a consultant was hired to focus entirely on the hack. The city’s own IT department has also tackled the work, but has remained responsive to other needs in city government at the same time.

“Since the hack, we’ve been under disaster response recover mode,” she told the council. “And we’ll be there until the end of September.”

Bivona said Wi-Fi in city facilities is still not operational. And Munis, the computer program the city uses for all financial operations, such as payroll and utility billing, also remains compromised.

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“There are security concerns associated with Wi-Fi,” she said. “We’re rebuilding a…