Thursday, May 14, 2020

Ohio DNR shuts down its web site after attempted hack, efforts to rebuild underway

Visitors to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources web site will not find very much, owing to an aborted electronic threat that caused the state to shut it down.

Monthly, the Natural Resources Department web site is viewed about two million times.

Instead, all that now exists where before extensive electronic branches led viewers to an encyclopedia of Natural Resources Departmental information was reduced to three links. These links, though, are operated by private entities that handle fishing-hunting license sales, boat registrations, and reservations for state park campgrounds.

A “patch” with additional, though still limited, information is hoped to be uploaded within the next seven to 10 days, says Ohio Department of Administrative Services’ director of communications, Bill Teets.

It is this Department’s Information Technology section which handles such electronic resources for the State of Ohio.

Teets says his agency took the Natural Resources Department’s website down May 8thto address a potential security concern.”

By the morning of May 9th, “we were able to put up what you see now, if you visit the site,” Teets said as well.

However, assures Teets also, the foiled electronic battering ram did not penetrate the Natural Resources’ multi-layered protection protocols.

Thus, no sensitive data – such as that containing personal information about hunting and fishing license buyers - occurred, Teets says.

Generally, when it comes to security issues we really cannot talk about it much, but an issue was identified and we addressed it,” Teets said.

Teets did say the Natural Resources Department is currently working on the development of an interim web site to determine “what they can put up in a short period time to cover until the new, permanent site is up.”

But they did not have any specific examples at this time. They also stressed
that ODNR offices and divisions will work to find workarounds and alternate
ways to share and receive information with our constituents,” Teets said.

Teets did elaborate as to how his agency is working with the Natural Resources Department “to build a new robust website.”

Such a new web site will address topics familiar now to the site’s clientele, Teets says.

Yet this new site will exist within the expanding orbit of the state’s “InnovateOhio” platform, Teets says.

InnovateOhio “..provides integrated and scalable capabilities that enable state
agencies to become more customer-centric and data-driven, delivering on
InnovateOhio’s vision to better serve Ohioans,” says the product’s web site, and is an activity led by Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon A. Hustad.

The new permanent website is expected to be launched later this summer,” Teets said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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