Fremont County government services closed due to computer security breach

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) – Numerous government services were suspended in Fremont County on Wednesday due to a cyberattack.

Around 3 a.m. on August 17, officials realized the county’s systems had been hacked. This cybersecurity threat shut down the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Health, and the Fremont County Administration Building. The Administration Building houses many departments, including the County Assessor, Treasurer, Coroner, Veterans Services, and Planning and Zoning.

According to Fremont County Commissioner Debbie Bell, all of those departments closed on Wednesday.

Officers were able to set up the Fremont County Sheriffs Department.

“We have a great IT team. Let me just say they were able to pull together computers that were ready to go but never were, and so we have the sheriff’s department up and running,” Bell said. .

According to Bell, they still don’t know what’s wrong, but they take it “very seriously” and follow all procedures for a cybersecurity attack.

Upon being notified, all staff were advised immediately not to use computers in the building. This includes not logging into work email on their phones.

At this time, officials do not believe any government data was taken.

Sign on the door of the Fremont County Administration Building warning of the closure, August 17. 2022

Bell said she had to turn away residents who tried to enter the administration building on Wednesday. However, workers were still accepting calls and trying to help residents over the phone as best they could.

“We know this will affect the public all day today. I don’t see how we will be reopened today for any reason. I don’t know what the future looks like,” Bell said. .

This is not just an inconvenience for citizens, Bell explained that it has also been stressful for workers.

“When we’re not able to provide that service, it stresses us all out. And so I walked around. I’ve already been to most of our departments today at some point to have these conversations with them and , you know, just understand, please, we’re working on it. We’ll get back up and running as quickly as we can,” Bell said.

Bell said cybersecurity breaches are not uncommon.

“We understand that we are very vulnerable. We do everything in our power to protect ourselves. And yet sometimes that’s just not enough,” Bell said.

In addition to solving the problem, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office searches for the person responsible for the threat. Bell said the sheriff’s office would “hold accountable whoever is behind the threat.”

“We will do everything we can to find out who is responsible for this and to hold them to the letter of the law. Absolutely. Yes. We don’t want to see anyone get away with this unscathed,” Debbie Bell said.

Fremont County officials told KRDO they don’t know when this issue will be resolved.

Ashley C. Reynolds