Delaware County is looking to boost its cyber security.

County commissioners on Thursday are set to consider a $157,000 contract with network security company FireEye Inc. to prevent any future data breach.

The request for added security measures comes on the heels of an attempt to hack the county’s system.

“The importance of this has come to light because we recently had a cryptovirus or cryptoware attempt on our county’s system,” said Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa, who added that the attempted hack was discovered and shut down.

Cryptoviruses attack computer systems by encrypting documents, making them unreadable. The hackers typically ask for a ransom to unencrypt the documents.

“There are a number of enterprising individuals out there that find ways to hack into systems and then demand a ransom,” said Kaitsa.

Miami County recently fell victim to a cryptovirus. Not many documents were impacted, but the county was forced to pay hackers $700, plus consulting fees to a security firm that handled the ransom payment.

Steve Lewis, Delaware County’s director of information technology, said the ransom amounts are normally determined by the number of encrypted documents.

Kaitsa said the county is an obvious target for hackers.

“When you look at it, we are a $100 million business,” said Kaitsa. “That means that there are probably individuals trying to hack into our systems.”

Lewis said the added layer of protection can also shield the county from any liability in terms of transmitting a virus to a third-party entity.

“There’s a lot more involved than just us being attacked by the outside,” he said.

Commissioner Barb Lewis thanked Lewis for his staff’s quick work to shut down the recent attempt to hack into the county’s system.

“We could have had a lot of damage,” she said.

The decision was put off until Thursday to allow newly sworn-in Commissioner Jeff Benton additional time to review the proposal.

“It’s scary stuff,” said Benton.

Hacking attempt detected recently

By Dustin Ensinger

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Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.