Cyberattack on Lee County system bad for business, no timetable for fix

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Credit: WINK News.

Lee County officials say there are safeguards and plans in place after its system was attacked, so we looked into the measures the county is undertaking after leaders announced hackers infiltrated the county system last Friday.

The Lee County websites remain down four days after its major cybersecurity breach.

We asked Commissioner Chairman Brian Hamman if there was a ransom involved, but he said he could not provide an answer currently. The county maintains it’s working around the clock to get systems back running.

With the county website down, anyone trying to pay a utilities bill or apply for a building permit will be unable to. This is also an issue for those looking for missing pets as well.

“It delays because you can’t proceed without a permit to work, so one of our customers is down a system,” said Kevin Whitty, who is trying to apply for a building permit.

Whitty told us the cyberattack is costing him money for his air conditioning business, unable to get the permits he needs.

“I came this morning to hopefully pull some over the counter, so we can progress with work,” Whitty said. “But I was unable to.”

We still don’t know who, when or how the hacker gained access to the county’s system. We don’t know if Lee County resident’s data is at risk or if there is a backup system in place. And we are still digging for answers about how much this breach will cost taxpayers.

Commissioner Hamman was the only Lee County leader willing to address some aspects of the cyberattack, while still avoiding specifics.

“The cost estimate about this is going to be somewhere in the thousands, not in the millions,” Hamman said.

The county said there is no timetable for the return of its system online.

Whitty said he first began having issues using the Lee County website on Thursday, a day before the cyberattack. His is depending on the county system to come back online to get his own business back up and running.

“I think it’s terrible,” Whitty said. “There’s people out there that always try to hack information and root people out of stuff, and I just think it’s awful, especially when it hits home.”

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