Clark County website back up after virus scare

It appears to be more annoying than harmful

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: March 7, 2013, 6:34 PM

 

Read the earlier story

Clark County websites down due to computer virus

Clark County’s website went back online around 8 a.m. Thursday morning after a virus scare brought the site down Wednesday afternoon.

County officials took the site down after learning that visitors to the site could become infected with a virus that was working its way through county computers.

The county believes that visitors to the site between 11 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Wednesday had the potential to be infected, but are unsure if that actually happened.

“If the public came to the website, they might have been exposed to the virus, but it doesn’t mean they were harmed or infected,” said Mary Keltz, spokeswoman for the county. “Whether or not they were infected or harmed depends on what they did on the site.”

Keltz said some files may have been infected, and if someone downloaded those files, there is a chance they picked up the virus.

The county is urging anyone who visited its site to run an antivirus program.

The county still hasn’t identified the virus, but officials believe it is a modified version of an older program.

The virus works by propagating itself through the creation of new files, but as of Thursday morning it did not appear the virus destroys information or steals data.

While the website is back up, some county activity is still being stymied by the virus.

Employees are being asked not to access information on shared network drives.

Keltz said it does not appear that the limitation will hinder any county business from getting done, as workers can “go back to other techniques.”

County officials are performing a sweep of the county system. There is currently no time frame for when that will be completed.

The county first became infected by the virus at 9:13 a.m. Wednesday. The source of infection is thought to be a USB device that was plugged into a computer somewhere on the county’s network.

County officials do not believe the computers were infected intentionally.

The virus infected a content management system that manages articles on the county’s website. The county’s information technology department believes that when the system ran a scheduled update, it uploaded the virus to the public site.

The virus was discovered later in the day; commissioners were interrupted during their weekly board time meeting to be told of the news. Commissioners immediately granted the county staff’s request to shut down the website.

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov; erik.hidle@columbian.com.