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Virus shuts down city services

September 19, 2018

A virus shut down many city operations this week, including phone and internet services for several departments.

City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said city departments lost phone and internet service in the downtown area, including city hall, the Beatrice Police Department and city auditorium, which houses Beatrice Fire and Rescue.

City departments outside of downtown, such as the library and Board of Public Works service center, were not impacted by the outage.

It’s believed that the outage was caused by a virus installed by an outside hacker.

“We got hacked early Monday morning,” Tempelmeyer said. “We think around 3:30 a.m., a virus was installed on the computers that came from a remote desktop connection. We are working to undo the virus so we can get things back up and get back to work.”

The virus did not impact 911 dispatch services, which use a different network. In person bill paying at the BPW office was also operational.

Tempelmeyer said the outage primarily impacted police and rescue workers by writing out reports by hand, rather than submitting them online as is common practice.

“The hard part is if the police department pulls someone over for speeding, they normally type back in a report,” he said. “Well you can’t do that. You have to write it on pen and paper. They usually email that report to the county attorney or city attorney, but they can’t do that today. It’s just little bit of a backup on paperwork getting done.”

Services were not restored as of Tuesday afternoon, though Tempelmeyer was hopeful the virus would be removed soon.

“It’s always concerning,” he said. “You wouldn’t want this to happen to any business, and certainly not one that provides the services we provide. We’re going to sit back and learn from this and see where we can strengthen up our security in the future.”

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