Cyberattack shuts down Fremont County offices, disrupting government services

Fremont County in southern Colorado is dealing with the fallout from a cyberattack. County services are limited as officials assess the full impact.

The cyberattack was discovered on Wednesday, but county officials didn’t announce it until Friday. It’s unclear if the breach was part of a ransomware attack or if the hackers targeted a specific service. The county believes the attack is confined to its servers and has not spread to other local or state systems.

“We are working to restore county services that were impacted by the cybersecurity event as quickly and safely as possible. We understand that it can be very difficult to wait, but know that we are waiting by your side. We are also seeking answers even as we work around the clock to restore all county government services,” Fremont County Commissioner Chairperson Debbie Bell said in a statement. “We have full confidence in the team we have put together and will look for a solution as soon as possible.”

Office computer systems were impacted and county employees cannot access their work emails due to the attack. All county buildings remain closed, including public health buildings. Bell said they don’t have a timeline for reopening.

Some services, such as 911 emergency calls and COVID-19 testing, are still operational. The county is focused on bringing other rapid response services back online.

The Fremont County Emergency Management Team and the Governor’s Office of Information Technology were mobilized as part of a joint incident response team, with support from various state partners and federal.

Daily updates on the attack and available services can be found at Fremont County’s temporary website and their social media accounts.

Cyberattacks have already targeted and crippled several Colorado agencies. In 2018, the State Department of Transportation was taken offline by hackers. The department was able to avoid paying a ransom in bitcoins thanks to a robust, but costly, backup plan.

Ashley C. Reynolds