In Post-Ransomware East Hartford, Conn., Officials Want to Hire an IT Lead

A failed ransomware attack last year and system vulnerabilities has the mayor and other local leaders lobbying to hire an IT director to serve the city and its schools.

by Jesse Leavenworth, The Hartford Courant / June 5, 2018
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(TNS) — Town and school leaders are looking to hire a shared information technology director, Mayor Marcia Leclerc wrote in a memo to East Hartford, Conn.'s Town Council dated May 28.

This decision comes after a cyberattack on the board of education’s computer server last year spotlighted the need for a “unified vision” for the school district and town information systems, Leclerc said.

The item is on the agenda for the council’s meeting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The ransomware attack on the board of education’s IT infrastructure was unsuccessful, but “productivity was negatively impacted as data had to be recreated from backups,” Leclerc wrote.

Separately and unrelated, she wrote, a town council subcommittee had commissioned a “penetration test” of technology infrastructure.

“The results of the assessment identified many critical and high vulnerabilities, leaving the town and [board of education] IT infrastructure with an overall technical severity score of ‘very weak,’” Leclerc wrote.

The results, the mayor stressed, were not a reflection on the staff, “but a stark realization that we live in a world of rapidly advancing and changing technology where evolving vulnerabilities are a way of life.”

The mayor said she anticipates the annual salary for the shared position will be $130,000. It will be a new position and no jobs will be eliminated as a result, Leclerc said.

Currently, IT manager Ken Sayers supervises six employees on the town side who support about 500 workers, including the fire and police departments, tax office, town clerk and registrar of voters. The IT manager’s position for the board of education is currently vacant. About a dozen workers run the network and support 7,000 students and 1,500 employees.

School superintendent Nathan Quesnel said he expects to fill the IT manager position. The shared director is needed to provide long-term, unified leadership in a crucial service, Quesnel said.

The new director would emphasize strategic deployment of technology assets and staff to protect critical infrastructure, “while raising the bar on the town’s entrance into new, evolving technology,” Leclerc wrote.

©2018 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.