Ransomware keeps Tillamook County computers down


County officials said they're working with law enforcement and the FBI

TILLAMOOK, Ore. (KOIN) — Computer systems within government departments in Tillamook County remained down a week after a major cyberattack.

County officials said Thursday their computer systems and websites appeared to be suffering from a ransomware infection which started on Jan. 2.

Phone services were also knocked out in the initial attack but have since been restored.

Tillamook residents were perplexed as to why hackers would target their sparsely populated county.

Computers at the Tillamook County library have “Out of Service” signs on them following a cyberattack in the county, January 30, 2020 (KOIN)

“It’s weird and a little concerning. I am just hoping it’s people playing games, seeing how far they can take it. Hopefully, it’s not something more sinister,” said Holly Waggerby of Tillamook.

Others questioned what the end goal could be.

“I just wonder what there could be to gain from getting in there, like anything worthwhile or what someone could be after,” said resident Garon Baker.

The county told KOIN 6 News the FBI and law enforcement are involved. Tillamook County has also authorized a third party to negotiate for them.

“We are lucky enough where all the servers [and] back-ups were encrypted so we have been able to bring some stuff back up online,” said Tillamook County Emergency Manager Gordon McCraw. He added that the malware attack didn’t hit all of the county’s servers and backups so “it’s not as bad as it could have been.”

He said even though the phone systems are up and running, county employees will continue to use their cellphones until everything is back to normal and stable. The libraries are also resorting to checking out books by paper “the old fashioned way.”

The Tillamook County Courthouse, January 30, 2020 (KOIN)

Not having access to county servers has also given employees the chance to go through and clean up files on their computer hard drives.

McCraw said the community doesn’t need to worry about the emergency 911 system because it’s not attached to the county’s servers.

As for a timeline on when the county’s websites will be available again, McCraw asks for the public to be patient.

“We hope to have this resolved as soon as we can,” McCraw said. “Not exactly sure how long it will take, be patient with us.”

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