Cybersecurity probe says personal data protection a priority – Herald-Mail Media




Washington County officials said Thursday afternoon that they are still investigating last week’s cybersecurity incident that has caused headaches across departments inside and outside county government.
But the privacy and security of resident and employee data is one of the county’s top priorities, according to a statement emailed by county spokeswoman Danielle Weaver.
If it’s determined any resident or employee data is affected, the county will promptly notify and provide resources to anyone impacted, the statement said.
“As the investigation is ongoing, we do not have any additional information as to whether resident and employee information has been affected by the incident,” the statement reads. “Making the determination of what information is affected, if any, is one of our primary goals as we work to restore our systems and services.
“While we do not have a definitive timeline for the investigation and restoration of remaining county services, our team is working diligently in these efforts,” it said.
When asked if the incident was a ransomware attack, or could even be described as a cyber attack, Weaver would not say.
“Due to the ongoing nature of our investigation, we cannot provide additional details about the cybersecurity incident at this time,” she wrote in an email Friday morning. “We are actively investigating the incident to determine its nature and scope.”
Affected areas include prosecutors’ access to files, leading to requested postponements in some criminal matters, Washington County State’s Attorney Gina Cirincion said previously.
A county update on Tuesday still noted that credit card payments for utility bills were being accepted by phone, and the treasurer’s office was taking real estate and personal property tax payments as well as utility payments if they were being paid via check.
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The county launched an alternate website on Tuesday that provides some workarounds regarding paying bills and applying for nonprofit assistance and community organization grants, as well as mentioning that certain services, like processing and issuing permits, were still unavailable.
Emergency 911 calls can still be made, the alternate county site states.
Sheriff Doug Mullendore referred questions about how the cybersecurity breach was affecting his office’s functions to the county’s public relations department.
Hagerstown Police Chief Paul Kifer said Wednesday that the “regular citizenry” won’t see any changes in police response to calls.
Officers continue to receive dispatch calls through the radio system as they always do, but they don’t see the dispatch messages pop up on the computer screens in their patrols cars, Kifer said. They’re just missing the visual message.
“Citizens don’t have anything to worry about. We’re responding,” Kifer said. “We can do the job we need to do even with this issue with the county.”

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