Union Beach latest NJ town hit by 'criminal cyberattack'

·2 min read

UNION BEACH - The Borough of Union Beach has joined the growing list of New Jersey municipalities that have suffered a cyberattack.

“The borough has recently been a victim of a limited criminal cyberattack on a borough server that services only one department,” Union Beach administrator Robert Howard wrote in an email to the Asbury Park Press. “The borough has successfully restored that department's system and the department is up and functioning. The borough has also conducted an extensive investigation into all other systems. Those systems are secure and unaffected by this attack.”

It’s unclear if any confidential data, like personal taxpayer information, was accessed, or if a ransom was demanded to stop the attack.

Is your data at risk?:Cyberattacks keep quietly crippling NJ towns

“As this matter is the subject of an active criminal investigation, the Borough is unable to provide further comments or additional details at this time,” Howard said. “If, through our forensic investigation, we determine that confidential data was accessed, the Borough will notify all affected parties in accordance with the law.”

Nationally, cyberattacks against government agencies have been on the rise. Middletown endured one in October, but the server impacted contained township email and documents — not any employee or taxpayer information. Middletown’s banking records as well as police, fire and EMS data were kept on separate, unimpacted computer systems.

Detail of a handmade sign at Scholer Park in Union Beach, NJ Thursday, May 6, 2021.
Detail of a handmade sign at Scholer Park in Union Beach, NJ Thursday, May 6, 2021.

In March, East Windsor was hit by a cyberattack that sent out phishing emails to residents; the emails looked like they came from the township. Hackers also stole $660,000 in Mercer County after breaking into the county’s email system and tricked an employee into sending funds by posing as a vendor.

The New Jersey Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund, a government agency that insures 637 local agencies in the state, said it sees about 30 to 35 cyberattack claims each year. Experts say attackers tend to be organized groups, either backed criminal syndicates or other nations.

Contact Jerry Carino at jcarino@gannettnj.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Union Beach NJ hit by 'criminal cyberattack'