Licking County, Ohio Computer Systems Become Victim of Cyber Attack

Media Division | February 3, 2017

A recent cyber attack made it necessary for Licking County, Ohio to shut down several systems to address the problem.  The County’s network, websites, computers, and phones were all taken offline due to a ransomware infection in the systems.  The attack was first discovered on Tuesday evening, and IT staff hastily shut down the nonessential servers to prevent a spread of the attack. The systems were expected to be down through the week, and potentially the weekend as well.

While the county has not disclosed how much ransom was being demanded to free up the systems, Commissioner Tim Bubb has stated that it is not an insignificant amount.  Currently the source of the attack is unknown, but when computer forensics are completed, they may be able to trace the source, though this may take weeks, said Emergency Management Agency director, Sean Grady.

Licking County has been working with cybersecurity experts and their cyber insurance company to attempt to restore their systems from backups.  They even brought in cots so that technicians can continue to work on resolving the issue, Bubb had said in a briefing to 40 county officials and employees on Wednesday.  He said officials will consult with the cyber insurance company to determine whether the ransom should be paid by the county.

How Systems Were Affected

The county offices were open on Wednesday following the attack but phone and computer systems remained offline while they were being worked on.  Many duties of the county offices have been affected in different ways.  For instance, individuals can pay their property taxes by check at the Treasurer’s Office, but the office cannot scan them to the bank electronically.  Licking’s 911 dispatch services have not been affected.  911 has been operating in manual mode, using paper, dry erase boards, and radios to dispatch first responders.  Fortunately, according to Bubb, there does not appear to be any evidence of a data breach, or any employee information compromised.

Technology and cyberspace are heavily relied on for many different organizations to function.  With the prominence that technology has in day to day operations, it is critical that these systems are properly protected, or effectively handled in the event of a breach.  The source of a cyber attack can be very difficult to trace, but Massive Alliance offers cyber investigative services to assist individuals or businesses in zeroing in on the perpetrator.

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