Vigo County, Ind., Computers Hit by Ransomware Attack

Officials say that an early assessment did not show any indications of compromised data, but county and provider personnel are also continuing a careful analysis to screen for additional problems.

by Howard Greninger, The Tribune-Star / July 24, 2019

(TNS) — A computer malware attack might result in some delays when dealing with Vigo County, Ind., government, but all offices are open for their regular hours and conducting business.

The Vigo County Board of Commissioners canceled its weekly Tuesday morning staff and public meeting due to the computer attack.

Commissioner Judith Anderson said commissioners were initially informed of a ransomware attack on a computer in Superior Court Division 4 at 2:22 a.m. Tuesday.

Ransomware is a subset of malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware typically spreads through phishing emails or by a user unknowingly visiting an infected website. Payment is usually sought to provide a code to unlock computer data.

Malware attacks usually come in the form of a computer virus or worm. A virus piggybacks on something like a document, spreadsheet or e-mail, whereas a worm is a more active attack. It starts on a networked computer system and attempts to subvert one or more computers on the network, according to the online publication Electronic Design.

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Jeremy Snowden, director of the county’s information technology department, said he was not completely sure of the type of malware when he briefed county commissioners earlier, but he added the county had not received a demand for money.

The attack was detected on the county’s network monitoring system, Snowden said.

“We are powering up the system,” Snowden said. “We have to bring up the core infrastructure and go through one at a time and see what we get from there,” he said. “Right now, we know it hit us and took our stuff down."

An early assessment, he said, did not show indications of compromised data, but county and provider personnel are continuing a careful analysis.

Snowden contacted the Indiana Secretary of State’s office Tuesday afternoon to inform it of the event.

Commissioner President Brad Anderson said the county was being cautious because some of the data with which it is entrusted, such as juvenile court documents, are not public record. He said the county is working with a third-party computer security system to investigate.

In a news release, Commissioner Brendan Kearns, the county’s computer system was “attacked by a malware (virus) program that has adversely affected daily operations.

“That attack has resulted in some information stored on internal servers being locked down and not accessible. The Vigo County IT department is working with our information technology security contractor to control the issue.”

©2019 The Tribune-Star (Terre Haute, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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