Saturday, April 23, 2011

Virus hits town office computers

HUDSON – A virus described as “virulent” attacked computers in town offices, derailing motor vehicle renewals for nearly three days and knocking police and fire departments briefly off line.
Information technology staff had the tedious job of bringing the town back online, server by server, work station by work station.

“This thing was spreading, mutating and hiding,” said Town Administrator Steve Malizia.

The towns 15 to 20 servers and roughly 160 workstations were affected, Malizia said Friday.

“I’ve been here 14 years, and I’ve never seen one get this far,” he said.

The virus showed up Wednesday morning in town computers.
“We don’t know how. We haven’t done the postmortem yet,” Malizia said.
Town offices receive lots of e-mail each day in this community of 24,000 residents, Malizia said. Someone might have opened an infected attachment, he said.

“We get a lot of e-mail. We assume it’s from someone in town who needs something,” he said.
There is no criminal investigation because the attack appears to be something random that just got past the security safeguards in the town computer system.
“This isn’t like someone hacked into our computer system,” Police Chief Jason Lavoie said.
The police department was brought back online by 9 p.m. Wednesday, the day the virus struck, Lavoie said.
When the virus hit, the IT staff was able to contain it by shutting down and cleaning systems, he said.
“They’ve been doing an outstanding job,” Lavoie said.
“We didn’t lose any data,” he said.
Emergency services were brought back up first, and were down for less than a day, he said.
During that time, police and fire were dispatched manually using a backup system, Malizia said.
As of Friday morning, the town clerk’s office was brought back up and workers were scrambling to catch up with car registrations. 

Some residents dropped off registrations at the town. Those now must be inputted into the system and the registrations mailed out. 

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