Lincoln County servers have been infiltrated by ransomware for the second time in less than two weeks. This time, it was servers within Lincoln County Communications that were hacked. Issues were discovered by Lincoln County Information Technology staff around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, according to a press release issued by Bill Gibbs, director of the Lincoln County Communications Center.
To date, no requests for ransom or other contact has been made by the hacker. Local, regional and federal resources including the National Guard, the FBI and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office have been contacted for support. No personal data was compromised that the county knows of, and it is unknown at this time how long it will take to get the servers back in operation, according to county manager Kelly Atkins.
“The servers could be back up as quick as a week or as long as a month,” Atkins said. “We’ve got a lot of people working on a lot of different things.”
While the servers at the Communications Center are down, first responders will still be handling all calls for service and the Communications Center is functioning and able to handle all 9-1-1 calls in the county.
“We’re taking 9-1-1 calls as we did before we got the servers,” Atkins said. “First responders just won’t receive the data over a computer, it’ll come over the radio. That’s the way we did it for years. It’s hard to say if this will slow down response time but I would say it would be negligible. Most first responders know the locations in which they work.”
On July 24, servers at the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office were hit. The Sheriff’s Office website is down and recovery of its servers is still ongoing.
“I’m not an expert on ransomware but in speaking with IT staff, which I’ve done quite a bit lately, given the 9-1-1 center and Sheriff’s Office are in the same building,” Atkins said,“they’re on separate networks but they share some of the same networking capabilities. This is kind of how it happens.”
It is the desire of the county and Sheriff Bill Beam, Atkins said, and not just as a result of this hacking, to integrate the Sheriff’s Office systems into the county’s in the future. Currently, the servers at the Sheriff’s Office are separate from the county’s system due to privacy issues.
“In the future hopefully we’ll be better protected even at the Sheriff’s Office,” Atkins said.