ANDERSON – On the advice of their insurance company Madison County officials are moving forward to pay the ransom demands by a unknown group that attacked the county’s computer system.

Madison County was hit by a ransomware attack over the weekend that prevented access to county records.

The malware attack has not affected the election where the voting registration records are maintained on a separate computer server.

County officials are hoping the problem will be resolved by Wednesday once the encryption code is received from the hackers.

“We’re following the directions of our insurance carrier,” Madison County Commissioner John Richwine said Monday.

The amount of the ransom is not being provided by the commissioners, but Travelers Insurance, the county’s insurance carrier, will reimburse a portion of the cost, less the county’s deductible.

Richwine said it was for an amount less than most county residents would have anticipated.

“No records have been lost. We just can’t access the data,” he said.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that prevents access to computers by its rightful users through file encryption until a specified amount of money is paid.

Richwine said it is a concern and that the county was preparing to upgrade the anti-virus software when the attack took place.

Commissioner Jeff Hardin said the problem was discovered Saturday at Central Dispatch when the computer system started locking up.

“They knew there was a problem,” he said.

Lisa Cannon, director of the county’s IT department, said the county will make sure the system is secure before new data is placed in the system.

“We’re in the process of adding a backup system,” she said.

Cannon said county officials are confident that no personal information from local residents was compromised.

“We’re checking to determine if any information was harvested through the attack,” she said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Most county offices were open on Monday with Madison Circuit Court Division 1 and 3 continuing operations by tracking court activities by hand.

Circuit Court Division 6 Judge Mark Dudley continued Monday's court hearings to another date.

Auditor Jane Lyons closed her office on Monday after the commissioners gave officeholders the option.

Lyons said her employees were taking either vacation or personal time off.

“Without the computer system there could be no work done,” Lyons said. “We have to access all our information on the computers.”

In May, DeKalb Health of Auburn was the victim of a ransomware attack. It’s not known if the hospital paid the ransom.

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