Data Incident Sparks Cybersecurity Investment in Meadville, Pa.

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(TNS) — In October, when Meadville City Council unanimously approved more than doubling what the city was spending on computer security and network management, City Manager Andy Walker said the investment was worth it given “the constant headlines with respect to cyberattacks and ransomware and malware.”

“We just found ourselves in a position of vulnerability that was uncomfortable and I think we really need to beef up our efforts,” Walker said. “We have underinvested for quite some time in our network.’

The next day, Walker’s forecast proved prescient when city staff learned of what Walker termed a “data incident.”

At council’s most recent meeting last week, Walker disclosed the incident that led to city computers being shutdown to external access for several days.

Staff implemented an immediate shutdown of the city’s computer network on Oct. 8, one day after council unanimously approved a contract with Hagan Business Machines of Meadville Inc. to replace Coppola Enterprises Inc. as the city’s information technology consultant, Walker told council last week.

“We had to shut down our server and our network and our email to the outside world,” he said. “The general public wasn’t impacted. There were no safety concerns — radio and telephone communications were operable.”

City staff were unable to access email for three or four days during the shutdown, according to Walker.

The incident involved “suspicious traffic data leaving our server,” Walker said.

Further investigation revealed that no city data had been compromised and the incident did not qualify as a “data breach” involving the capture of personal information, nor was the city required to notify any individuals or agencies regarding the incident.

Council then unanimously ratified payment of $12,800 for Hagan’s response to the incident as well as an additional…