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So, Oregon Govt. I.T. Systems Are A Hot Mess Right Now…

Maybe you’ve thought recently, “Goodness, things are just slower than molasses working with the State of Oregon!”.  Maybe you always think that.  In any case, you are not alone.

If you’ve dealt with the Oregon DMV or if you’re a long-haul driver earning an updated license or if you have service requests pending with the Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Health Authority, Dept. of Human Services, Dept. of Revenue, or Oregon State Police, your business with the State is progressing a good bit slower than usual right now.

Ever since Friday, a mystery glitch has invaded the State of Oregon’s entire system.  Internet connectivity has been spotty at best.  VOIP phones are being affected as well.

And — News Flash; They don’t know what it is yet and while this bug isn’t a major cause for emergency right now, it’s impact is enormous.  To put it plainly, Oregon’s I.T. Systems are sick.  They have a bad cold and they can’t seem to shake it.

Alright, (like on the dance floor!) this is where I – back it up…

So, briefly, and quite recently, I worked in the I.T. Staffing business.  I was primarily working in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area.  It was a fairly cool line of work in a cool place.

In this particular line of work, I gained a lot of knowledge and conceptual understanding about how the whole “I.T. thing” has worked, is working, and how it will likely work with current technology.

And so, armed with this knowledge, I must tell you, upon consideration of the State of Oregon’s recent history in the I.T. realm (not great), they may have a real problem on their hands here…and perhaps a very spendy one.

I asked KXL Tech Expert Chris Moschovitis to weigh in.  He says, “It certainly raises an eyebrow that it has lasted for this long.  It also raises an eyebrow that the breadth of the damage is so wide.”  He continued, “If we’re talking about (the impact) going from phone systems all the way down to computer systems, that right there is odd.”  He later called it “suspicious”. 

After Chris told me that, we got into whether the State of Oregon has been hacked.

He told me, if so, there would be a couple of obvious possibilities.

There is the “Denial of Service” hack; It’s where a well designed bot sends massive blasts of service requests (millions per second) into vital I.T. server equipment.  The servers essentially get overloaded and slow WAY down.

Another possible hack would be to “enslave” an I.T. network so that it is working on another task in the background, also slowing everything WAY down.

Here’s the kicker.

Apparently that second approach, “enslaving” networks, is quit popular with the people who “mine” the internet for digital currency.

You’ve probably heard of “digital currency”, right?  You have.  Bitcoin, etc…

Well, as I’ve learned, the people who desperately desire to “mine” these digital currencies will intentionally “enslave” computers or entire networks in order to do it.  In the background of their normal day-to-day operations, these “enslaved” I.T. systems are kept busy mining (insert digital currency) and, in the process, running much slower.

Again, that’s not to say this has happened with the State of Oregon’s I.T. networks, but as I’m told by Moschovitis, it is a plausible hack in this scenario.

When I talked to the office of Oregon’s CIO, they told me, “at this time we see no evidence of an attack.”  The office spokesman said the glitch was Priority No. 1 right now and that a determined root-cause analysis was ongoing.

What I heard him say is, “It’s been 6 days and we still don’t know what this thing is or how to get rid of it.”

So, they are asking us to keep our patience and our humor.

Ok.

But — I must say — having slower-than-normal I.T. systems at Oregon State Police makes me feel a little nervous.



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