Grinding halt

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 7, 2023

County Recorder’s Office back online, then off again after cyberattack

After a Christmas Day cyberattack took down the Lawrence County Recorder’s Office systems, the workers spent Wednesday catching up on a backlog of work. Only to find out there was a storage issue on Thursday that made everything grind to a halt again.

“We haven’t started 2023 out very well,” said Recorder Sharon Gossett Hager. “We’re hoping Monday is better.”

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The vendor, Cott Systems, a Columbus-based company that provides county and town governments with public records management software, identified unusual activity on its servers. The company said it disconnected all of its servers to isolate that activity within our environment and brought in cyber specialists to investigate the event and to do forensic analysis.

Once it determined the company was the victim of an organized cyber-attack, they notified the FBI and Homeland Security.

With the system down, the recorder’s office couldn’t access to deeds, mortgages or other records that were filed electronically.

“Without a recorder’s office, it all just grinds to a halt as far as mortgage financing, deed transactions,” Hager said.

It took until Wednesday for the system to be safe enough to go back online.

So the workers of the Lawrence County Recorder’s Office got to work getting through the accumulating backlog.

“We just worked steady all day Wednesday and processed, in fees, over $10,000,” said Hager. Normally, a big day in January would be around $3,000 in fees. “We were behind over $7,000 over last week. Thankfully, it was a short week and this was a short week.”

Then, on Thursday, the office got more bad news from Cott Systems.

“They said was probably going to be down on Thursday and Friday,” she said. “It wasn’t due to a cyberattack, Cott Systems had to go into a lockdown mode because of storage. So I guess we just worked so hard we blew it up.”

Hager said the office hoped to be back up and running on Monday, but couldn’t say for sure.

“It is just a day-by-day thing,” she said. “And I just really hate it. Not only for our office, but for the people that use our office.”