Cyberattack Forces System Shutdown in Luzerne County, Pa.

County officials have taken the court systems offline after a virus was discovered over the weekend. The attack was limited to the courthouse servers and has not impacted other computer systems in the county.

by Eric Mark, The Citizens' Voice / May 30, 2019

(TNS) — A cyberattack has forced Luzerne County officials to shut down some of the computers at the county courthouse.

Information technology workers are examining all servers and computer stations at the courthouse, according to David Parsnik, county director of administrative services.

“We are going through every computer to make sure there are no viruses,” Parsnik said Wednesday.

The public should not hesitate to conduct county-related business while that investigation continues, he said.

Some county offices may provide paper receipts or take other measures as part of contingency plans for dealing with a lack of computer access, Parsnik said.

The cyberattack was discovered Saturday by the county’s computer security monitoring service, which indicated a virus infected some computers, according to Parsnik.

County officials immediately took measures to limit the damage, shutting down much of the courthouse computer network until it could be examined by IT professionals, Parsnik said.

The attack was limited to the courthouse servers and does not impact computer systems elsewhere in the county, he said.

It appears no personal or sensitive information was compromised, but officials “are still assessing that” as they investigate, Parsnik said.

The attack likely stemmed from someone opening an email attachment that contained a virus, according to Parsnik.

“I can’t prove it, but most of the time when you get these things inside the system it’s because someone did something they shouldn’t have,” he said.

It will take a few more days to examine all workstations that might have been impacted, Parsnik said.

“We are trying to get it resolved as soon as possible but with the amount of computers involved it’s going to take time,” he said.

The cyberattack is likely to spur changes in computer-use policies for county employees, according to Parsnik.

“We are going to have a few changes going forward, a few re-training issues,” he said. “Employees just need to be educated more on what to do and what not to do.”

The county’s contract renewal with Microsoft Corp., which took effect July 1, 2018, includes an enhanced protection package that added about $26,000 to the cost of the contract.

In May 2018, county Information Technology Director Mauro DiMauro told county council members the enhanced protection is necessary, since government entities are at increased risk of cyberattacks.

“We’re starting to see more and more targeted attacks that are aimed toward Luzerne County and other counties and other government agencies,” DiMauro said.

©2019 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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