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Lee County system suffers cyberattack

By Staff | Sep 20, 2019

Lee County’s website and online operations were down Friday after a cyberattack.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais, along with County Commissioner Brian Hamman, made the announcement Friday afternoon, saying an investigation is under way and access to the county website may be suspended until the issue is resolved.

“We have had a cyberattack on the Lee County system,” Desjarlais said at a press conference announced to the media by phone as the county email system was down. “What we want the public to know is our technology contractor, along with our security experts, are fully engaged in helping us resolve this issue.

“As we continue to work to that resolution, we have temporarily disabled access to our website, leegov.com.”

Desjarlais said that over the next few days, use of the website may be off and on, with electronic services such as applying for a building permit, not available to users.

“Our primary goal and our obligation is to make sure that we protect all of the data that we’re entrusted with,” Desjarlais said. “We are protecting the data that we have and all emergency services are in full operation. None of those systems have been adversely affected.”

Not many details were immediately available, as the county is doing its part to not jeopardize the investigation.

“General government services are still operating,” Desjarlais said. “Where we’re having difficulty as, of course, is any service that requires web access.”

Desjarlais said he could not put a timetable on when he expects a resolution, and could not disclose when the attack took place.

Desjarlais also noted that he doesn’t believe the hackers have obtained any information related to either members of the public or employees.

Preventing cyberattacks, or handling potential attacks, is nothing new for the county, Desjarlais said, adding that a successful hack of the system is not a common occurrence.

“I can tell you that we get attacks every day,” Desjarlais said. “As does everyone else. This type of breach is pretty unusual.”

According to the National Security Agency, there are 9 million known malware signatures worldwide, and that 350,000 new malware products are created every day worldwide.

“We’ll work this issue for 24 hours a day until we have full resolution,” Desjarlais said.

Commissioner Hamman said the County Commission was immediately made aware of the issue and he hopes that this comes to a swift resolution.

“On a day-to-day basis we do a good job at stopping all of (the attacks),” Hamman said. “But with (hackers) writing new (code) every day, this one got to us, but not before we were able to use some protective measures to try and protect our network and our IT infrastructure, and we’re going to continue to work that through and protect the people of Lee County and their information.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj