DOVER -- As officials in Strafford County continue to repair the damage caused by a cyber attack in June, a bipartisan bill to make additional defense resources available to state and local governments is being highlighted by two U.S. senators.
Officials said about 500 computers were affected by the ransomware, and that the major systems are now back up and running.
On June 28, encrypted files were noticed by workers at the county’s dispatch center around 5:30 a.m. Every server was soon affected.
At Riverside Rest Home and the Strafford County House of Corrections officials began using paper instead of computers as workers figured out what happened. They determined it was ransomware.
Sheriff David Dubois said last month that county officials did not consider paying ransom to the individuals who launched the attack.
Four weeks after the attack, Strafford County Commission Chairman George Maglaras says the lingering damage caused by the computer virus is serious.
“It’s wiping out some of our databases. It’s just not a good thing,” Maglaras said. “Something needs to be done about it. The question is 'what?'”
Maglaras said he is in favor of “major fines and major jail time” for anyone who attacks a government server, saying it is an “act of war against our country.”
On Tuesday, Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, reintroduced the Advancing Cybersecurity Continuing Diagnostics and Mitigation Act, which would update and improve federal agencies’ cybersecurity and make additional defense resources available to state and local governments.
The bill would help Strafford County strengthen its databases, according to a press release from Hassan's office.
“As we saw just recently in Strafford County, New Hampshire, cyberattacks pose a real and growing threat to everything from local nursing homes to our national security,” Hassan said in a statement.
“These threats are constantly evolving, and I’m glad to join Senator Cornyn in reintroducing this bipartisan bill, which not only requires the Department of Homeland Security to monitor and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities as they arise, but also ensures that these resources are available to state and local governments in New Hampshire and across the country,” Hassan said.
Cornyn said cyberattacks on government networks are increasing in frequency and sophistication. By enacting into law the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program and providing congressional oversight, the federal government will be better prepared for cyber threats, he said.
Hassan and Cornyn first introduced the bill last Congressional session. This year’s bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to make resources available to state and local governments to further guard against cyberattacks, according to the press release.
Capt. Paul Callaghan at the Strafford County Sheriff's Department said on Wednesday evening that the investigation into the ransomware attack is ongoing in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service.