Jail, deputies, dispatchers adapted to challenges, officials say

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Sheriff's Office is still working on recovering some data affected by a malware attack, but dispatching and sheriff's operations, including the jail, are running fine.

A malware virus infected the computer operating system of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department early Aug. 4, marking the second time in less than two weeks that local government experienced technology turmoil caused by malware.

The IT staff quickly responded to and contained the virus well, Sheriff John Plasse said, but the problems caused did interrupt email communication for a few days.

All jail controls continued to function, but online record-keeping was affected, Jail Commander Charlie Funk said.

The online Jailtracker system is still off by a few days for some inmates, Funk said, but corrections are being made.

“We lost all of July's data.” Plasse said of the jail database. The information had yet to be backed up when the virus struck.

Funk said jail staff switched to the pre-computer method of entering information on paper and entering it manually on computers. That was a challenge for staff who had never entered data before today's automated systems.

Plasse said an inconvenience did occur for people who were booked into the jail with cash on them. Normal procedure is to place that cash onto a debit card that later released to the person when they are released from jail.

Since that system could not be accessed after the virus struck, delays occurred in releasing cash to some inmates, the sheriff said.

As for the 911 system, Director Vicki Oster said the malware caused a brief interruption in the 911 system. It also knocked out Computer-Aided Dispatching, or CAD.

Again, that meant writing down information on paper to be entered manually into the computer system later.

Oster said under normal circumstances, the CAD system automatically enters calls for service from emergency personnel and creates a computer log of all activities, such as which officers from which agencies respond to which locations.

“We're business as usual now,” Oster said after Wednesday morning's meeting of the 911 Advisory Board.

On July 23, other Vigo County government offices experienced a malware attack that affected email and computer operations in various offices, including within the courthouse.

County IT contained that problem and the system had been restored to 95 percent with two days, although some email issues persisted for a few days.

Plasse said the IT department for the sheriff's department continues to work on issues there and is still seeking the source of the attack.

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