JOHNSTOWN − Dynamic Networks President Darren Richards told Johnstown City Council on Tuesday the Mount Vernon-based company’s computers were hacked, affecting its clients, including the city of Johnstown.
Richards said it appears the city’s police department is the only one that can’t access all its data. He said no ransom has been paid or will need to be paid.
Dynamic Networks is the city’s information technology company. Richards said it has 100 to 150 clients in central Ohio. He said the company restored about 60 servers in a couple days.
“I hate saying it, but one of our systems got hacked and, in turn, a lot of our clients got hacked,” Richards said. “The infected systems are no longer in use. We shut those down right away. We’re not seeing any personal information leaving.”
The hack occurred on Dec. 18, affecting many of the company’s clients. Richards said he’s been working with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI since the hack.
“We were able to restore from our last online backup and everything was fine,” Richards told council. “The police department is a little bit different. Chief (Abe) Haroon (the former police chief) set everything up and told me we were good.”
The city’s computer system is backed up to the cloud, but the police department is not, Richards said.
Richards told Police Chief Rusty Smart, “We got a lot of your stuff back, but I’m not sure we got everything. We’re still working on that.”
City Manager Sean Stanenart said, “There was a recommendation the PD go cloud-based, but the prior chief disagreed. Nothing was taken. Things were encrypted to where we couldn’t physically see it. No data was extracted.”
Smart said the police department’s body camera videos can’t be downloaded now, and soon will be at maximum capacity on the hard drive. He also said the the mayor’s court files were affected.
“The only thing lost (from mayor’s court) was the form we use on a daily basis, but we’ve been able to access off our other server,” Smart said. “I just wish I had known at the time the police department wasn’t backed up. I was under the understanding that we were.”
Haroon, now working at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, said videos from police car cameras and body cameras were the only thing not backed up to the cloud because of the enormous cost to do so.
Haroon said he presented the storage costs to council and based on a manufacture’s recommendation, suggested a mirror drive be used only for the videos because of the cost of backing up videos to the cloud. The mirror drive had no monthly cost, he said. Ultimately, city council made the final decision, Haroon said.
Mayor’s court records were housed on the municipal server, not part of the police department, Haroon said.
Johnstown Mayor Donald Barnard asked Richards to investigate what Johnstown can do to prevent future cyber attacks.
“I think we’re going to become a target because the assumption is with massive industrial growth and economic growth, the money will flow into the local municipality,” Barnard said. “That’s not the case.”
A January 2017 cyber attack forced Licking County government to shut down its 1,000 computers and phone systems, costing more than $50,000 in overtime and insurance payments.
A computer virus and ransomware demand was discovered on Jan. 31, 2017. The county refused to pay the ransom and its information technology staff worked virtually nonstop to get most of the county computer systems back in operation by Feb. 16 of that year.
The system shutdown helped protect data, preserve evidence and prevent the spread of the virus. Data was recovered from backup systems. No culprit was identified.