Madison County taking steps to avoid another computer system hack

Workers have spent weeks restoring a central Indiana county government's computer system that was hacked by an unknown group demanding a ransom payment.

Madison County officials decided to pay the undisclosed ransom following the Nov. 4 hacking that locked up county computers. Officials then received decryption keys to unlock the files.

Staffers have worked many hours of overtime restoring links between the computer software and county files that were broken in the hacking attack, county information technology director Lisa Cannon told The (Anderson) Herald Bulleti.

Although Cannon wouldn't discuss the strain of ransomware or explain how it was introduced to the county's computers, she said it wasn't from a malicious email or fake website advertisement, which are the most common ways malicious software gets on computers.

Work has included adding more computer security and creating a backup system that would make it much easier to recover from another ransomware or virus.

"We have taken steps to stop it from happening again," Cannon said. "But we had what we thought were up-to-date safety precautions."

County Administrator Dan Dykes said it would have been far more costly and time consuming to fight the malicious software.

"We were told by the Indiana State Police that it could take from now until the end of time to actually break the encryption," he said.

Officials are negotiating with the county's cyber insurance carrier on covering some of the hacking-related expenses, which includes the employee overtime, cost of new software and systems, and the rental of computer equipment.

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