Spring Hill ransomware battle could take weeks - WSMV News 4

Spring Hill ransomware battle could take weeks

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The police department is writing emergency calls on pen and paper. (11-9-17) The police department is writing emergency calls on pen and paper. (11-9-17)

City officials in Spring Hill have been in an uphill battle against a ransomware virus that attacked the city's computer servers on Friday.

They say the virus is so new, it doesn't yet have a name.

"Almost every department is affected somewhat," said Spring Hill City Administrator Victor Lay. "We have a centralized accounting department that all departments work in and through," Lay added, explaining that employees have been locked out of it under the virus.

Lay said they think it happened when an employee opened an email and clicked on a bad link last Friday. Servers throughout the building began shutting down.

The police department has moved from computers to writing emergency calls on pen and paper.

"Instead of us automatically entering the information into the computer system, we write everything on paper and fill it out. We've updated our forms because we haven't done this in a few years," said 911 director Brandi Smith.

Smith said response times haven't changed. Dispatchers call officers, give an address, using Google for verification. While officers are en route, dispatchers take other pertinent information on the phone and file it in a notebook. They've been tracking the calls and officer locations on two white dry erase boards in the dispatch center.

Upstairs in city hall, residents have been coming in to pay their utility bills, using cash, checks, or money orders. Credit card scanners and online billing are all down. The city is not charging late fees while the systems are down.

"It's kind of sad how they can get in and do that. It's kind of scary," said Diane Johnson, a Spring Hill resident. "I normally pay them online, but I heard about the trouble they are having, so safer rather than sorry.”

Lay said the city does not keep social security numbers on file so hackers shouldn't be able to access that sensitive information.

"We don't collect social security numbers. They're not in the utilities systems," Lay said. “Actually, only recently in the last month did we start to collect Tennessee driver's licenses."

The city has been working with six different companies and agencies trying to restore servers and data. Lay said some of the back-up data has been corrupted under the virus.

Right now, city officials aren't offering a timeline on how long it will take to get back to normal. They say security upgrades were up to date, but they will be looking into adding extra security layers to the city's email system, so this won’t happen again.

City offices will be closed Friday in observance of Veterans Day.

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