- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 2, 2016

Computer systems in Larimer County, Colorado are up and running again after a “cyber incident” disrupted government services for hundreds of thousands of residents.

Larimer County was unable issue licenses, conduct business inspections or offer certain health services after a computer issue discovered Wednesday crippled its systems before being resolved two days later.

The majority of public services were not effected by the incident, Larimer County said through its Facebook page, although The Coloradoan newspaper initially described the outage as a countywide “service degradation” that had effectively prevented government employees from using email or logging-on to their computers.

County employees who restarted their computers Wednesday morning were greeted with a blank screen and a flashing cursor as the result of an security change in the operating system, said Michelle Bird, legislative and communications coordinator for the Larimer Board of County Commissioners.

Essentially all services handled by the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder’s office were down as a result, in addition to welfare services such as WIC and county-run clinics, the newspaper reported. Additionally the incident shuttered the county’s ability to access documents, issue marriage, pet or liquor licenses or fulfill passport applications, and prompted officials to ask residents to avoid going to the county landfill until the systems could be repaired.

On Facebook, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that it too was experiencing technical issues affecting certain administrative functions. And The Ranch, a conference center located within the Larimer County Fairgrounds complex, said it was also affected because employees are heavily dependent on the systems that had been “compromised by an outside force.”

“Most importantly, this was not a malicious attack from an outside source. There was not a virus,” Ms. Bird clarified to the Coloradoan. “There will be no criminal investigation.”

Indeed, she added that county employees were outright instructed to stop using their computers until its cyber experts could resolve the issue, the paper reported.

“Our IT professionals did not make decisions lightly throughout the duration of the event and engaged multiple security experts to assist,” Ms. Bird told the newspaper. “Based on the symptoms presented we were advised by our consultants to move slowly and methodically to protect the data.”

The outage disrupted services for the roughly 300,000 Coloradans who call Larimer County home, including residents of Fort Collins — the state’s fourth most populous city and home to Colorado State University.

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