LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A cyber-attack over the weekend is causing county offices across the state to go offline or temporarily close. Each affected county is using the company Apprentice Information Systems for its online servers.
The Rodgers based business would not say how many counties they serve, but several affected county offices said they believe it could easily be up to half the state with at least one office offline.
Empty desks, warning signs. and locked-out computers are the sights and conditions in an untold number of county offices in Arkansas.
“We’re going back into the eighties with how we’re doing things right now,” Gail Snyder, Assessor for White County said.
Snyder first learned of the potential breach on Saturday. She said her office, the tax collector’s and the clerk’s are all back to handwriting everything.
Through calling 20 central Arkansas counties before they closed Monday and by searching the Assessor’s Apprentice Information Systems User Group website, we found three counties (Garland, Hot Springs, Jefferson) used a different provider and were unaffected.
Three counties (Arkansas, Pike, and Van Buren) were completely without internet for their officers. Overall, 31 counties are confirmed to have at least one or more offices serviced by AIS with servers offline.
“Normally, Apprentice does not comment to the press on media matters but refers inquiries to our county partners. However, this is a unique situation and felt it deserved some response,” A spokesman for Apprentice Information Systems, Doug Matayo (CEO, Standing Rock Consulting), said.
Matayo’s release reads:
“Apprentice Information Systems, Inc. recently detected a potential security breach which may have affected some county government partners in Arkansas. Out of an abundance
of caution some county government systems have been brought offline to further assess potential threats and investigate potential ongoing security issues.”
When asking when servers could be restored A-I-S said, “County-partners will be brought back online when it is deemed safe and prudent to do so.”
Depending on location, it is stopping or limiting several services. A post by Yell County Assessor Sherry Hicks stated, “This means you cannot assess, pay taxes, file deeds, search for deeds, no marriage license., etc.”
Hicks went on to say, “Apprentice (our platform company) has informed us that looks like system will be down at least two days.”
At least Saline and Faulkner Counties closed their assessor’s offices Monday. Snyder said White County Judge decided their offices will remain open operating by phone and in person with paper copies which will need to wait until they can be inputted into a database.
“Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to be fast? By no means. That’s the reason for computers. To make life easier, but we will do it. We can make it work, and we’ll still continue taking care of our citizens,” Snyder urged.
According to AIS’s website, they provide software for assessors, collectors, clerks, and treasurers. They also have software for personal property, land records, marriage records, and website services.
Snyder said the information inside the assessor’s office databases is public records, so she is uncertain what value there is in a cyber-attack.
Any systems pertaining to the election are on their own separate servers according to Faulkner County’s attorney.