Crucial Luzerne County assessment database still inaccessible due to cyber attack

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - [email protected]
Parsnik Parsnik -
The Luzerne County Courthouse. The Luzerne County Courthouse. -

A crucial Luzerne County government real estate assessment database was still down Wednesday — the 12th business day — due to a cyber attack discovered over the Memorial Day weekend.

County Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik said he was optimistic the real estate program would be restored by the end of the day so assessor’s workers could access it Thursday.

Without this database, assessor’s staffers have been unable to update property information, assessed values and ownership changes.

The database also is needed to complete property identification number, or PIN, certifications required for real estate sales, transfers and mortgage transactions to be processed and officially recorded in the deeds office, officials said.

Tax assessment appeal hearings scheduled for Thursday were canceled as a precaution in case the database is not restored, the county website said.

The delay reactivating the database stemmed largely from a new glitch that caused main courthouse computer network programs to slow down Tuesday, prompting the administration to shut down the system that afternoon.

Parsnik said the cause of the gridlock has been pinpointed and fixed. Essentially, some stored data had to be moved to a backup status more frequently, instead of once a day, to free up server space reserved for heavily used programs that require speedy retrieval, he said.

Parsnik also said he wanted to clear up any concerns about the accessibility of marriage licenses, stressing applications are still being accepted and processed by the county.

The county’s network monitoring system had detected the cyber attack May 25 during the Memorial Day weekend. In response, the administration shut down the main courthouse network — both servers and work stations — to prevent the virus from spreading and later called in a consultant to help diagnose and fix the problem.

A forensic analysis of the attack will be performed by New York City-based Arete Advisors and a lawyer retained under the county’s cyber risk insurance policy, Parsnik has said.

County Chief Solicitor Romilda Crocamo identified the outside attorney Wednesday — Edward Finn, of Mullen Coughlin LLC in Wayne. Finn would handle legal action on behalf of the insurer and county if the perpetrator of the attack is identified and a viable claim arises, she said.

Arete plans to start the forensic analysis next week and should be on site several more weeks working on its investigation and any lingering service restoration issues, Parsnik has said. The FBI and local law enforcement also have been notified.

Parsnik
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/web1_Parsnik-1.jpegParsnik

The Luzerne County Courthouse.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/web1_web1_luzerne-county-courthouse-1-2.jpgThe Luzerne County Courthouse.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

[email protected]

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.