Union City Hall

You might need to update your contacts if you want to email your Union alderman in the future.

The board of aldermen voted at its Monday meeting to change to a .gov domain suffix from the current .org on email addresses for city officials. The city’s website, unionmissouri.org, also could see a change.

The recommendation came from Earl Neal, Union’s emergency management director, who recently saw a cyber security presentation at a conference, City Administrator Jonathan Zimmermann said.

Neal and the city’s information technology providers said the .gov domain is the most secure domain and recommended the change to protect against cyber security attacks.

The change will cost around $1,000, “but if it prevents a ransomware-type attack, it would be well worth it,” Zimmermann told the board.

Alderman Tom Strubberg asked if the current website could redirect people to the .gov address, which Zimmermann said the city would do.

The city of Union has been victim to two ransomware attacks in the last several years, Zimmermann said after the meeting. The most recent attack cost the city two days worth of data.

“We had to restore everything from back before the attack,” he said. “We handle a lot of information every day. So, from that perspective, it cost a lot.”

According to Missourian archives, the city of Washington suffered a ransomware attack in August 2017. The city paid more than $416,000 in fees to a cyber security company and to expedite the replacement of the aging network and equipment.

Washington now uses a .gov web address, washmo.gov. Washington City Administrator Darren Lamb said the city built a new website with a new domain name after the cyber attack.

A .gov email address also helps users know an email they received is from an official government agency, according to dotgov.gov, the site for the agency that registers .gov domains. The domain also includes security enhancements like a two-step verification process that requires a password, along with a passcode from a mobile device, to be able to log in.