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Fremont County, Colo., Extends Disaster After Cyber Attack

With no email or Internet services within the county government after a cyber attack, there were no laptops, no impromptu use of the GIS website when needed, and no access to information for the clerk's monthly report.

Cyber attack concept. Bright text on digital lcd display with reflection. 3D rendering.
(TNS) — Tuesday's Fremont County Board of Commissioners meeting was somewhat of a blast from the past.

With no email or Internet services within the county government after an Aug. 17 cyberattack, there were no laptops, no impromptu use of the GIS website when needed, no access to information for the clerk's monthly report, no digital publishing of the meeting agenda on the county website and no lifestreaming to the county's Facebook page.

The commissioners and staff, armed with paper copies of their meeting packets, maneuvered through those issues, after all, that's how things operated when Commissioner Chair Debbie Bell took office in January 2011.

But some things that have been not so easy to work through are the complete shutdowns of county offices.

The closure to the public of the Fremont County Administration Building, Health Department, Sheriff's Office and Department of Human Services continued as of Tuesday.

Bell said there is no estimated time as to when things will completely reopen, but they do have a plan in place to soon begin reopening offices in a piecemeal fashion.

"It is going to be a slow reopening," she said after the meeting. "As departments become available, we will open that department to the public. We will not be waiting for everything to be completely done and ready to offer services. As soon as something is ready, we will begin offering the services because we know people need what we provide."

On Tuesday, the board approved a resolution extending the declaration of a Local Disaster Due to Cybersecurity Attack on Computer Technology Systems for Fremont County, which will be effective through Sept, 13, unless it is terminated before that time. Declaring an emergency has opened doors for more support and assistance, Bell said.

"This has been an incredibly rough work for everyone in Fremont County, but especially for our IT department and for our administrative department," Bell said. "Last Friday was a payday for the county and our administration team sat late Wednesday afternoon and handwrote about 330 checks so people could get paid."

All three commissioners thanked the county manager, the county emergency manager and all of the county staff for their tireless work behind the scenes to attempt to get things restored.

"These are unprecedented events for us in Fremont County — thank you to the public for your patience and understanding through this," said Commissioner Kevin Grantham. "We are getting things back up as quickly as we can. Staff is working an ungodly amount of hours to make this happen."

Other counties that have been in a similar situation have reached out to the commissioners and offered information on who helped them through it, and local special districts have reached out and offered the use of their IT services.

"It's been amazing to see the response that people have had," Bell said. "It hasn't been anger, it has been, 'I am so sorry, what can I do to help.'"

Gunnison County was the target of a cyber scam in January that initially "resulted in more than $1 million in fraudulent payments to unknown parties posing as representatives of the legitimate insurance vendor," according to the Gunnison Times.

According to an Aug. 3 news article, $341,793 had been recovered, reducing the loss to $683,586.

"The incident was referred to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, and an investigation is still in progress at this time," the article states. "A county insurance policy against cybercrime has paid the amount in full."

At no time did this threaten county operations, the article states.

The TImes-Call in July reported that the town of Frederick had been notified that its computer network might have been hacked by a group known to carry out ransomware attacks after officials became aware of an incident that involved unauthorized activity within the town's computer network.

"Specifically, a group associated with ransomware attacks has alleged that it gained access to the town's network," the article states. "A type of malicious software, ransomware often locks users out of their professional or personal computer system until they agree to pay a ransom."

It isn't clear which group claimed to have accessed the town's network and if it demanded a financial payment, the article states, but the town of Frederick retained an outside digital forensics and incident response firm to help investigate the incident. The town has maintained that the incident had no impact on any of its services or operations, according to the article.

"Things are not as normal in Fremont County right now, but we are working very, very hard to get back to normal, to have every system restored, to have all of our data back and restored once a gain," Bell said.

Those in need of county services may call each Fremont County department office directly. For more information, call the information hotline at 719-276-7421 or visit

A recording of Tuesday's meeting will be posted on the FremontCountyCO YouTube channel,

© 2022 Daily Record, Canon City, Colo. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.