Update on Cullman County Revenue Office malware attack

The Cullman County Courthouse fell victim to a malware attack over the Christmas weekend. Although payment functionality has been restored online, it’s still unclear who was behind the cyberattack. (Cheyenne Sharp)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Revenue Office over the Christmas weekend was the victim of a malware attack, forcing a temporary shutdown of its online payment portal, causing some residents to lapse on property taxes, vehicle registrations and more. The Revenue Office has extended a grace period until Jan. 8, allowing those individuals who were inconvenienced by the outage to pay for those fees and services without the financial penalty that would typically apply. As of Dec. 29, full payment functionality was restored to the Cullman County Revenue Office website.

While the information that has been gathered doesn’t give any clues as to who was responsible for the malware attack, or what information was taken, the Revenue Office reported the server does include public property records – but personal information was redacted before those documents were uploaded to the server. A backup server has also been scanned and scrutinized to ensure that the Office’s “Plan B” server is clear of malware or viruses, in the event of another attack or outage.

“The County’s investigation into the scope and impact of this incident remains ongoing and will take some time to complete. We are reviewing what happened with law enforcement authorities and leading cybersecurity experts. To protect the progress of our ongoing investigation, we have shared all the information related to the incident that we can at this time, but will keep the public informed as material updates are available,” Cullman County Commission Administrator John Bullard said. “The County takes steps to protect its network; however, unfortunately, sophisticated incidents like this are common. Once the issue occurred, we responded immediately to contain and address the situation. Thanks to the diligent work of many County teams over the holiday, we securely restored our website, ending the temporary outage in a matter of days and allowing residents to quickly and easily renew their tags and property tax transactions online. We have granted a grace period through Jan. 8, 2024, for those temporarily impacted by the outage. We will continue to work with our IT team and our partners to help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

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