A computer server crash two weeks ago in the Miami County, Ind., courthouse is still causing hiccups on some county departments’ computers, and officials now say the breakdown exposed confidential legal documents that should have been inaccessible to other employees.
Basic government services were on hold for nearly two weeks after the massive server failure knocked out Internet and email access in most departments and offices.
Clerk of Courts Tawna Leffel-Sands said last week her department was unable to process marriage certificates or suspend or revoke suspension on driver’s licenses.
Prosecutor Bruce Embrey reported Tuesday he still could not access his court calendar, and his saved court files remain scrambled because of the crash.
“Here we are two weeks later, and we’re still having issues,” he told county commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday.
Circuit Court Judge Tim Spahr told commissioners he realized last week he could view confidential documents from the offices of the prosecutor, probation, community corrections, the clerk and other courts after the server failure.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said. “ … I don’t like the idea of someone possibly digging around seeing what I’m working on. Someone could have literally gone in and deleted court hearings from our filings, which would be disastrous.”
Although the county’s IT department barred access to the prohibited files immediately after Spahr reported it, he said the glitch could make the system vulnerable to hackers.
“It worries me that these things aren’t thought of in advance,” Spahr said. “ … I’m not a hacker, and I just accidentally found my way into other people’s files. That shouldn’t be able to happen.”
Commissioner Josh Francis said IT Director John Evans had previously notified the county the servers would soon need replaced.
“They’ve been telling us for a little while now that these servers are filling up,” he said.
However, Evans told commissioners one of the servers “dropped off the map” before its scheduled replacement, causing the crash.
He said the county has a history of not replacing or updating technology until it malfunctions, and officials need to begin preemptively maintaining and replacing technology to avoid another massive failure in the future.
“This is the way we’ve done it forever,” Evans said. “It doesn’t mean it’s the right way, and it’s a matter of changing it now.”
County officials said they plan to reconvene the county’s technology committee, which hasn’t been active in years, to discuss how best to update the county’s servers and computers.
Evans said problems caused by the server failure should all be resolved this week.
Commissioner Larry West told courthouse officials the county would make sure the problem doesn’t happen again.
“We understand your frustration. We’re frustrated too,” he said. “We’ll get through this and find out how to prevent it from happening again.”
©2014 the Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Ind.)