South Carolina County Still Reeling from January Cyber-Attack

The road to recovery is proving to be a long one for a South Carolina county targeted by cyber-attackers last month.

Georgetown County's network was brought down by cyber-criminals on January 23 in what officials described as a "major infrastructure breach." 

While 911 systems and operations at the Georgetown County Detention Center were unaffected by the attack, the county's electronic systems and email were disrupted. 

Ten days after the attack took place, cybersecurity experts are still working to recover systems and analyze the full extent of the breach, and county emails have not yet been restored.

County staff put in extra hours over the weekend to ensure payroll and other essential functions could be finished on time. Authorities said departments such as courts, the treasurer’s office, and the auditor’s office won't be back online for at least another five days.

“County offices are utilizing a combination of mobile access points and other temporary equipment to continue operations to the greatest extent possible,” stated the county in a press release issued earlier today. 

“The county’s administration is working on putting additional measures in place to provide departments with additional functionality until network issues can be completely resolved. It is still unknown when a complete resolution may be achieved.”

Although investigations into the attack are ongoing, the county said that so far, there has been "no indication that any personal information belonging to either employees or taxpayers was compromised in the cyber-attack."

Members of the public have been asked to contact Georgetown County staff via phone until email issues are resolved.

Georgetown County, which is home to around 60,000 people, does have insurance against cyber-attacks. 

A September 2019 ransomware attack on Jasper County, South Carolina, took weeks to resolve. Speaking in October 2019, county chairman Tom Johnson said: "Our safeguards and staff responded appropriately. Unfortunately, appropriately means shutting everything down. 

"So, it’s created quite a nuisance and inconvenience and also, to some extent, an expense. But we haven’t written any checks to criminals." 

Georgetown County has not shared any details about what kind of malware was used in the cyber-attack.

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