Vilas Co. upgrades IT infrastructure as ransomware attacks hit Wisconsin citiesSubmitted: 02/04/2020
Story By Stephen Goin

Vilas Co. upgrades IT infrastructure as ransomware attacks hit Wisconsin cities
VILAS COUNTY - After recent cyber attacks in Racine and Oshkosh, one Northwoods county hopes new IT upgrades will protect its computer systems from the same fate. 

In 2019, the Vilas County board approved a $190,000 capital expenditure allowing the county's IT department to expand its storage.

Earlier this year, the county began what IT director Mike Duening calls a "huge" IT overhaul.

"You have to be able to explain to people who are not in the technical field the value of protecting your data then show the return on investment or the value of the tax payer who are ultimately paying the bill," said Duening.

In addition to the county's current data center in the Vilas County Court House, the IT department upgraded a second data center in January to fully mirror the existing infrastructure. The second data structure is in an undisclosed location.

In January, the county also invested in a third method of storage that's entirely cloud based.

"It allows us to take our data and put it outside of our network so were able to recover encrypted data quickly," said Duening.

Duening says Vilas County's computer system can see more than 200 cyber attacks a day.

In the midst of an emergency, digital or physical, Duening says the county's upgraded systems should now be able to retrieve lost or stolen information in 24 hours or less.

"When systems go down employees can't work, when they can't work, it's causing the county money so really this is an investment moving forward," said Duening.

Duening says each data center has multiple back-up batteries in addition to a generator to ensure IT systems are always running

According to Duening, Vilas County employees are continually trained on online safety procedures to avoid cyber attacks.

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