City of Hawkins operations return to normal after alleged hacking | State | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

HAWKINS — City of Hawkins operations have returned to normal following the alleged April 1 hacking of its computer system.

City staff are using new computers and are able to send utility bills to residents, take credit card payments, access city documents and resume other functions, Hawkins Mayor Debbie Rushing said Tuesday.

The Texas Municipal League, the city’s insurance provider, set up new computer equipment and cybersecurity programs for the city to use, Rushing said.

“We had to do everything so we could lock it up like a fortress,” she said.

City officials shut down City Hall computer systems in early April after Rushing and others claimed Shahaub Tafreshinejad, the son of Hawkins Councilwoman Eleta Taylor, installed remote-access and network mapping software on a computer in the mayor’s office.

Rushing previously said a data breach might have occurred as a result of the incident.

In late March, Charles Richoz, the former interim mayor, signed a contract with Tafreshinejad — without the approval of the Hawkins City Council — for Tafreshinejad to perform “cybersecurity services” for the city. On April 1, hours before Rushing was sworn in as mayor, Richoz and Tafreshinejad entered City Hall, where video footage showed Tafreshinejad using a computer in the mayor’s office.

Computers at City Hall were shut down for most of April, and city employees were unable to access Hawkins’ emails or online documents. Residents paid utility bills using cash or checks.

Tafreshinejad told the newspaper he did not break any laws.

The Texas Rangers are investigating, and Rushing said Tuesday she had no update on the investigation.

Jordan Green is a Report for America corps member covering underserved communities for the Tyler Morning Telegraph and Longview News-Journal. Reach him at [email protected].


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