Sewage plant was ransomware target, no money paid

MOUNT DESERT — The town’s wastewater treatment plant in Northeast Harbor was the target of a ransomware attack in April, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said Monday, as it warned other municipalities to be on guard. 

This was the first known attack of its kind in the state. 

Town Manager Durlin Lunt said no serious harm was done. The treatment plant’s office computers were offline for a few days, but the operation of the treatment plant was not affected. 

“We lost a little data off the hard drive in the attack, but nothing we couldn’t recreate,” Lunt said. “We didn’t pay anything, and we didn’t have any public information compromised. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t bring back up relatively quickly.  

“But it was a wake-up call,” he said. “We did a review of our security and beefed it up to try to stay ahead of the hackers. It is definitely an arms race between them and organizations [they target]. 

“We feel pretty comfortable that everything is pretty much under control here at the moment,” Lunt continued. “Of course, the hackers are going to continue to try to do this to organizations, and we all just need to be prepared and make sure our security is as strong as possible.” 

Mount Desert has three wastewater treatment plants. The ones in Seal Harbor and Somesville were not affected by the ransomware attack. Lunt explained that the Northeast Harbor plant is the only one with an internet connection. 

The only other municipality in Maine that has reported a ransomware attack on a wastewater treatment plant is the town of Limestone in Aroostook County. That incident occurred July 4 and, as with Mount Desert, it had no serious effect and no ransom was paid. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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