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Madison County Computer Systems Face a Ransomware Attack

Employees of Madison County were not able to send emails since the evening of 7 October, 2018, Sunday, after getting attacked by a ransomware virus that infected the computer systems. The Madison workers were also not able to receive emails due to the ransomware virus attack.

The virus attack affected the county's business badly, as per Kim Muir, Madison County Clerk.

Brent Mendenhall, the County Commissioner, said that the county still does not know how the ransomware virus seeped through the computer network of the Madison County. The IT personnel will try to find out the source from where the ransomware virus was sent, once the system gets restored.

Apart from the email, the virus attack also targeted the digital files of the county and prohibited the Madison County from issuing the payroll checks to the employees. Muir said that the county has been using back up data of 6 October, 2018, Saturday, for issuing the pay checks which are due on 11 October, 2018 (i.e. on Thursday).

The virus has been discovered on 8 October, 2018, Monday, at the time an employee was ensuring that the new Odyssey system of court runs properly on 9 October, 2018. As per Mendenhall, the virus otherwise would have gone unnoticed till 9 October, 2018, Tuesday, as it was a day off for the employees because of the Columbus Day.

Ransomware viruses always work by blocking user's access to the files as well as other necessary systems. Then the hackers' demand payment for returning back the access. Both Muir and Mendenhall have said that they have not seen the ransom amount demanded by the hackers, as they had no intention to pay the ransom amount.

Mendenhall said that, "when someone is trying to hold you at ransom, they're cyber terrorists". Mendenhall further said that the ransomware seems like a generic virus, from a hacker who is looking for any local government or company with breachable security. Madison County's IT personnel were credited by Mendenhall for meticulously backing the data, which allowed the county in restoring the system without paying ransom amount.

"It was massive. We've never experienced anything like this," said Mendenhall.

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