Mat-Su declares emergency due to cyberattack

PALMER — The Matanuska-Susitna Borough on Tuesday declared an emergency over the cyberattack that brought down computers, servers and phones last week.

The declaration allows officials to tap borough reserves set aside for emergencies but also request funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Borough Manager John Moosey.

The borough also holds "cyberattack" insurance, IT director Eric Wyatt told the Mat-Su Assembly during a meeting Tuesday night.

Wyatt said organizations like Mat-Su typically spend $1 million on average to recover from such a comprehensive malware attack, though his estimates for the borough are below that now.

He provided an update on the situation: Borough email is coming back online slowly; financial records initially thought lost can be largely recovered, though possibly a year back at the most recent; and the popular MyProperty site is online, but without real-time updated information.

Walsh warned borough employees who did personal or financial business on the agency's network to change their passwords.

He repeated the estimate that it will be three weeks before online functions at the borough return to something resembling normalcy.

The city of Valdez was hit with similar malware last Friday.

Officials there said Tuesday that it's likely Valdez will declare an emergency as well.

"We're going that same direction," public information officer Allie Ferko said.

The city's phone system wasn't damaged by the attack, Ferko said, but it did knock offline servers, emails and all "computer infrastructure."

Emergency services remain unchanged in terms of the level of response to the public, she said, but staffers can't access accounts such as water bills or slip fees at the harbor.

Zaz Hollander

Longtime ADN reporter Zaz Hollander is based in the Mat-Su and is currently focused on coverage of the coronavirus in Alaska. She also covers the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at