Sunday August 18th, 2019 11:29AM

Dawson County government impacted by computer hack

By B.J. Williams News Director

Dawson County government officials continue to work through issues caused by a cyberattack on some government computer systems. 

Dawson County IT officials were made aware of the problem around 2:30 p.m. Monday, April 23.

"[An employee] reported they were unable to use a file on their computer," said Will Shattuck, a Dawson County IT analyst.

IT officials went to work right away, calling in cybersecurity experts to assist with the investigation.

"Our first step was to shut down all the systems to reduce the potential impact," said Jay Ryerse with Carvir Cybersecurity, a company working with Dawson County officials to mitigate the impact of the breach. "We've then taken steps to document and track what's going on so we can then share that information as need be with the Secret Service and other government entities that have taken interest."

While the Dawson County 9-1-1 system is operating normally and county offices are open for business, county employees are unable to send or receive email via their county accounts. County Manager David Headley said it's been tricky to work without computers, but employees are doing the best they can.

"What we're doing right now is looking at alternate ways of doing things and in some cases we're having to refer back to - for lack of a better term - old school [practices]," Headley said, noting that there's been a good bit of manual logging and documentation taking place. 

So far, it appears all sensitive information stored in the county systems is safe.

"At this point, we have no reason to believe that any information was compromised, but the incident is still under investigation, so there's not a full report yet," Ryerse said.

Ryerse said Dawson County is the latest government entity to suffer a cyberattack; a breach also occurred in the city of Atlanta's computer systems this year.

"What they're learning is they're not alone," Ryerse said. "There are a lot of government agencies - not only here in Georgia, but across the country - that have experienced very similar issues just in the last few months." 

Ryerse said he hopes governments that have been impacted will share what they learn to prevent future breaches from occurring.

He also said he is unsure how long it will take before all systems in Dawson County will be back to normal operation.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Politics
  • Associated Tags: Dawson County, cyberattack, ransomware, Dawson County government
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