2017-07-13 / Community

County defends itself against hackers

By Kelly Krager
Editor • kkrager@mihomepaper.com • 989-269-9918

HURON COUNTY - The Huron County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase a new firewall to replace the county’s aging computer defense system about six months early after hearing about millions of hacking attacks that came from all over the world.

Computer Information Systems (CIS)Director Christopher Prill said the county’s current firewall was released in 2005 and expires at the end of the year.

“It would be a real benefit for us to get it now, a couple months early,” he said. “The firewall is our network’s security device that monitors and protects our network from any threats from the outside. It’s a priority of the CIS department to keep a safe and secure network here,” he said.

The department has installed a device that logs incoming traffic.

“Since April, we’ve had over four million attempts to gain access to our network,” he said.

Commissioners were surprised by the number of attempts to access county information.

“Wow!” Chairman Sami Khoury exclaimed. “It’s getting worse and worse all the time.”

Prill said hacking by malicious foreigners isn’t just a problem for the federal government and major party committees.

“It’s coming from all over. China has been a big one recently, but they are from all over the world,” he said. “All of these attempts were unsuccessful, but … the IT department has to be right 100 percent of the time. A hacker only has to be right one time.”

A benefit to the new firewall is it will allow the county to block traffic from specified geographic regions, such as countries known for being home to hackers.

“We really don’t have any business with Russia, for the most part, or China. We can block them straight out, and if somebody from there does have communications, we can whitelist those on a case-by-case basis,” Prill said.

The new firewall, purchased from Hi-Tech, will cost the county $3,665 to get off the ground and an annual fee, which is yet to be determined.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners:

• Heard a presentation from Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith about PA 116 terminations, which he said are not as simple as many in the county believe. Smith said 75 percent of the farmland in Huron County is enrolled in the farmland preservation program, and landowners have limited options to terminate agreements, which last from 10 to 90 years.

• Agreed to authorize Huron County Corporation Counsel to request an opinion from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office regarding whether or not the county has the authority to place a mosquito abatement millage proposal on a ballot.

• Accepted the retirement of Brenda Osentoski from the position of dispatcher, with regret.

• Voted to increase the pay scale of 911/Emergency Services Director Randy Miller, Administrative Assistant Janice Pulaskey and Pretrial Services Officer/District Court Bailiff Karen Jensen pursuant to the county’s compensation system, effective Aug. 1.

• Heard that the annual Bluewater Youth for Christ Auction will take place 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pigeon Rec Park. The Summer Benefit Auction is the largest fundraising event for the Bluewater Thumb chapter of Youth for Christ.

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