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Henry County, Ga., Investigates Possible Cyberattack

County officials said they are working with the FBI and the Georgia Technology Authority “to identify the issue and rectify any persistent issues” that forced the network to be taken offline early Wednesday.

(TNS) — UPDATE: Henry County, Ga., appeared to still be suffering an outage Thursday morning. Access to the Henry Government website remained down and the county instructed riders of its on-demand transit operations to verify rides by calling 770-288-7433.

ORIGINAL STORY: Henry County leaders are investigating a possible cyberattack that forced the south metro community to take down its network all day Wednesday to safeguard the information of taxpayers.

The county said its tech team flagged a potential cyberincident around 4 a.m. Wednesday and later disabled servers that host the county’s email and daily operations, such as tax collections, business licences and building permits, out of caution. Phones at county offices were also impacted.

The county said it is working with the FBI and the Georgia Technology Authority “to identify the issue and rectify any persistent issues.”

“We have employed all resources to mitigate the issue and are working diligently to rectify the situation,” the county said.

The potential attack comes more than a year after Atlanta was hit by a breach in March 2018. That breach impacted the city’s Watershed Department and municipal court after cybercriminals used a virus to demand $51,000 from Atlanta. The city did not pay the money.

Municipalities in Imperial County, Calif., Greeneville, N.C., and Augusta, Maine, as well as the airport in Cleveland, Ohio, have reported various cyberattacks in the last six months in what security experts say is a stepped up effort to target governments.

Public safety was not affected by the Henry County incident, officials said, and offices such as the motor vehicle department were operational on Wednesday because it runs on the state’s servers. The county’s courts also were operating, though court records were not available.

If the county cannot resolve the issue, it could go back to using pen and paper in some areas such as senior services, said Melissa Robinson, the county spokeswoman. Henry’s on-demand transit service, which transports users to hospitals or the grocery store for food, may have to print schedules instead of using digital copies.

How long the services will be out is unknown, Robinson said, but the staff is working diligently to restore operations. It also is testing backup servers before enabling operation of any additional systems.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and ask for your patience at this time,” the county said. “We will update periodically on the progress.”

©2019 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.