Clark County investigates ‘suspicious activity’ online; some services down

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Clark County Information Technology is investigating suspicious activity detected Saturday on the county’s computer network.

According to a Sunday news release, the department is “actively investigating the situation and working on a solution.”

Some parts of the county website are not yet available, including online maps, the property information center and the geographic information services department.

“As with most organizations, Clark County monitors the security of its networks, which is how this issue was discovered,” said Joni McAnally, communications specialist for the county.

McAnally said there has been no indication that residents’ data or any other data has been stolen. McAnally said staff were working to get the county’s online maps up and running and available to the public, but he didn’t know when that would be.

At the county elections office, which just mailed out ballots for the Nov. 7 general election over the weekend, computer systems do not appear to have been affected, but some activities in the department were.

“The suspicious activity caused a brief delay in our ability to update, make changes to, add and delete voter registration records, the system,” auditor Greg Kimsey said Monday.

The election management system and voter registration database are part of the statewide system operated by the Washington Secretary of State. Although state and county computers were not affected by the security issue, communications between the two systems were affected.

“I hope that by today, certainly before the end of the week, our ability to make those changes will be restored,” Kimsey said.

Meanwhile, the elections office accepts paper voter registrations. Newly registered voters or voters who need a replacement ballot can obtain a provisional ballot in person at the elections office at 1408 Franklin St. in Vancouver, or wait until later in the week to print an official ballot.

“We do not anticipate this will interfere with our ability to process returned voter ballots, issue preliminary election results, or certify this election,” Kimsey added.

Ballot tabulation and scanning are done on independent servers separate from the county system and were not affected by the security issue, according to the statement.

Other departments struggling with computer problems on Monday included the prosecutor’s office, correctional services and the Superior Court.

An updated inmate list for the Clark County Jail was not available Monday afternoon and only bookings were posted before July 31.

“The Department of Correctional Services continues to work with our legal and judicial partners to coordinate efforts to ensure the jail is open to new arrests and prosecutions,” David Shook, director of correctional services, said in an email Monday.

Superior Court dockets got off to a slow start Monday when court staff discovered they did not have access to the court’s computer system and there were problems connecting with defendants in jail.

“As I understand it, there were some initial issues with access, but we have used backup systems and workarounds to keep processes going with our internal and external partners,” Shook said.

Lawyers had to resort to paper printouts of criminal records and other documents instead of using a laptop. In some cases, court staff left the courtroom to print documents for the judge to review, significantly slowing down court proceedings.

Updates will be posted on the county website at www.clark.wa.govand linked to the information ribbon at the top of the page.

Reporter Becca Robbins contributed to this story.

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