Hinesville City Council on May 3 approved funding to recover from a ransomware computer attack that crippled the city’s network Feb. 20 and to try to keep it from happening again.
City Manager Kenneth Howard requested $31,662 immediately to mitigate any further attacks. He is also seeking an additional $29,261 in the next budget to move to more secure networks and establish a cloud based system.
After the attack, Howard said, the city immediately contacted Mullen Coughlin and Kroll Cyber Security when they learned computers had been infected.
They discovered the hackers gained access through a remote desktop portal. The hackers placed the ransomware but, per Kroll Cyber Security, they didn’t access any sensitive or critical information. Any computer system that was on was infected by the ransomware which demanded bit-coins equal to $56,000.
The council also approved a policy to allow HPD officers to take their patrol vehicles home if they live in Liberty County or within 15 miles of the police department. Officers may take their vehicles home if authorized by the chief and approved by Howard. The policy is to help HPD recruit and retain officers, he said.
The department also recently went to 12 hour shifts, which Interim Chief Bill Kirkendall said immediately bolstered morale.
The council approved a lease for 279 Briarwood Circle, owned by the city and county. The building currently houses Liberty Humane Shelter, a no-kill animal rescue. The non-profit will pay $100 a year rent.