Area gov’ts beef up cybersecurity

Fayette County victim of ransomware attack

By Sam Shriver - [email protected]

LIMA — Clicking on an unsolicited email attachment is just one way a computer hacker can infiltrate a network and cause all sorts of harm.

When a cybersecurity breach hits business or government computers, the result can be costly.

In many cases, the hacker demands payment to free the data that they’ve locked through a ransomware attack. That’s what Fayette County Commissioners are dealing with after a hacker got into the Fayette County system recently.

According to the Record-Herald, an AIM Media publication, 26 computer servers had to be rebuilt.

The problem of cybersecurity is on the minds of local government officials. At stake is a treasure trove of personal information that, in the wrong hands, could lead to identity theft or worse.

Lima Mayor David Berger commended Lima City Council, which recently approved the new position of IT Manager who would oversee the city’s computer infrastructure.

“We do expect that one of the activities that person will be charged with is creating an ongoing set of program initiatives to deal with this,” said Berger.

Berger agrees the network systems need to be protected.

“When you consider all of the desktops, the laptops that are now in vehicles, such as police cruisers, fire trucks as well as smartphones, we certainly have hundreds of connected devices,” said Berger.

Berger was asked if something like this has happened to the City of Lima systems. “Not that I can think of.”

In Putnam County, Commissioner Michael Lammers has more than 30 years experience as an IT professional.

“We are right now in the middle of a full-blown cyberwar with Iran,” said Lammers.

Cracking down on these hackers is a priority for the U.S. government.

“They have laws now that they actually go after these people,” he said.

Precautions have been made to keep the bad guys out of county computer networks.

“Putnam County is as protected as we can make it. We have virtual servers, which is really the key to fighting this ransomware. Virtual servers and a continuous backup system with multiple locations in our facilities allows our IT department, if we would be hit by some sort of ransomware attack, we can isolate on the virtual server, eliminate it from our server stack and rebuild that server, recoup the information within a 5-10 minute window and be back up and running within 15 minutes,” said Lammers.

A representative in Allen County did not want to discuss their IT capabilities for fear it would encourage a hacker to break into the system.

“There are some hackers that would take this as a challenge,” admitted Lammers.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

Fayette County victim of ransomware attack

By Sam Shriver

[email protected]