BLACKFOOT — Bingham County officials are scrambling to rebuild parts of their computer infrastructure after a ransomware attack took down county servers on Wednesday. The Bingham County IT team is pulling all-nighters to recover their systems.
“Every department in the county is affected in some way,” Bingham County Commissioner Whitney Manwaring tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Phone systems, computer systems, everything. Some departments are handwriting documents.”
The ransomware attack was initially discovered on Wednesday, Manwaring said. The phishing attack infected the county servers and made the data inaccessible to employees. A group of hackers, who have not been identified, then contacted the county and demanded they pay a ransom to obtain a key that would decrypt the data on the county servers.
“They have asked for a price between $25,000 and $30,000 to be paid through BitCoin or Western Union,” Manwaring said. “Either of those transactions would be difficult, if not impossible, to track.”
Backup Server Infected
The county chose not to pay the ransom and switched over to backup servers Wednesday. Bingham County information technology staff thought the virus was contained but discovered around 4 a.m. Friday that the virus had infected at least one backup server, causing the entire county to go offline.
“The attack is similar to those that have affected other counties,” Manwaring said. “Right now it appears to be foreign, but it is very difficult to trace and say that for sure.”
Emergency 911 calls went through to the system, but were not recorded by the computer tracking logs. Dispatchers also had to use physical maps and cell phones to direct officers to emergencies and at times used computer-aided dispatch services from Boise, officials said. Thousands of radio transmissions and hundreds of calls and police reports will have to be logged manually once the system is back up.
“We had all kinds of firewalls in place to prevent these kinds of things from happening,” Manwaring told EastIdahoNews.com. “To prevent this from happening again there will likely be several more firewalls and more training for staff using county computers.” County officials hope to have all computer systems back by sometime this weekend.
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