BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Many Bernards Township operations remain up and running, with officials able to be reached by phone or email, even while investigators are continuing an "around the clock" investigator into a "ransomeware" attack on the township's network that downed the township website on Monday.
For example, police department operations do not appear to be affected, officials said.
"Bernards Township continues to work on a network disruption impacting our ability to access certain Township systems. We are working with third-party computer forensics specialists around the clock to determine the full nature and scope of this incident," Mayor James Baldassare said in a statement on Thursday sent out to residents via the municipal RAVE emergency notification system.
Baldassare said on Thursday that it can be confirmed that the township was the victim of a ransomware attack, in which malicious software blocks access to data or threatens to public data unless a ransom is paid.
"We are communicating with both state and federal law enforcement," Baldassare said. "We continue to dedicate all available resources to recovering from this event and will provide necessary updates as they are received."
Some municipal and financial operations not infected, mayor says
The mayor said that the ongoing investigation so far continues to show that certain parts of the township's operations have not been affected.
As of Thursday, preliminary review appears to show that parts of the municipal network system that do not appear to be affected include the township's software system which provides financial and payroll capabilities, along with recreation software that allows for scheduling and payment; the online Office365 system; the township phone system; and the Bernards Township's police department.
"We also want to emphasize that billing information is not hosted on our network," the mayor said. He said such information is directed to third-party vendors for processing, and the township has not received any reports of disruptions from those third-party processors as of Thursday.
In announcing the disruption of the network on Tuesday, Baldassare said that first responders' operations had not been affected.
Tuesday's 'virtual' Township Committee meeting canceled as result of system attack
However, the ransomeware attack did result in the cancellation of Tuesday's scheduled Township Committee meeting that was to have again been conducted on a "virtual" basis as a result of a statewide COVID-19 lockdown.
"As with any investigation, this is a meticulous process, and we thank all of you for your patience and understanding as the forensics work continues," the message said.