Howard County Government Website Is Offline – June 25th

Howard County Government

Here is something you don’t see everyday…the Howard County Government website was hacked and is down today. The screenshot above was taken at 8:00pm. I found out about this via a story reported by the Associated Press:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Government websites, many of them in Ohio, were hacked Sunday with a message that purports to be supportive of the Islamic State terrorist group.

A message posted on the website of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, “You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries.”

The message, left by “Team System Dz,” also ended, “I love the Islamic state.”

The same message also infiltrated government websites in the town of Brookhaven, New York, according to news reports in that state, as well as the website for Howard County, Maryland. In the past, the group also claimed responsibility for similar hacks in the past in Richland County, Wisconsin, and in places such as Aberdeen, Scotland, and Sweden.

Several other government websites were hacked in Ohio, including that of first lady Karen Kasich, Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Casino Control Commission.

Tom Hoyt, chief communications officer for Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services, was among Ohio officials who confirmed the hack.

“All affected servers have been taken offline and we are investigating how these hackers were able to deface these websites,” he said. “We also are working with law enforcement to better understand what happened.”

He said the hacking in Ohio happened at about 11 a.m. EDT. He hoped the websites would be up and running sometime Monday.

The websites in Brookhaven and Howard County also remained down on Sunday. When asked about the outage on the Brookhaven site, a spokeswoman who answered the phone at the New York town’s police department simply offered a “no comment.”

The hack is part of ongoing cyberterrorism that has impacted governments and corporations across the globe.

Some see these types of hacks — sometimes called “defacement” — as simply a nuisance, though in some instances, they have been disruptive to work and government life.

But others see cause for alarm. “Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland,” Josh Mandel, the Ohio treasurer and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said in a tweet Sunday.

Authors of the website “Cryptosphere,” which tracks hackers worldwide, have detailed dozens, if not hundreds, of similar hacks in recent years by the so-called Team System DZ, which they called a “pro-ISIS hacker crew” and claim are based in Algeria.

Impacted websites, they said, have included those for a synagogue in Florida, the student union at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, for UK Rugby and a number of websites on WordPress.

I am sure the County Information Technology team is hard at work to get the site restored and secured and hopefully they will have this all resolved before tomorrow morning. This was sent out on Facebook earlier today:

Given that it has been more than 3 hours and the site still appears to be offline, maybe the fix was not a easy as they had hoped. Any why no information on Twitter? Wait – no posts on Twitter since the 15th. Did their Twitter manager go on vacation? Someone within the County Government should look into that as well.

I will keep an eye on this…and will report updates as I have them on the Scott E’s Blog Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/scotteblog/

Note to all website owners: systems monitoring the security of your site and regular backups are CRITICAL today. I see this type of hacking attempts regularly on websites I monitor and manage.

Keep your website safe!

Scott E

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 9.59.35 AM

Update (6/26/17) – The website appears restored as of 9:45am this morning.  Good job HoCoGov IT Department!

 

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3 thoughts on “Howard County Government Website Is Offline – June 25th

  1. Pingback: Hiruy Hadgu Running For County Council – District 3 | Scott E's Blog

  2. I heard this made national news. Interesting. Well, my company does secure hosting, if anyone is thinking this is a good time to make sure their website is secure. Atigro.com :-p

  3. Pingback: The Howard County Republican Central Committee Website Offline – June 27 | Scott E's Blog

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