Fayetteville city services back online — sort of — after cybersecurity incident

(File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
(File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Residents are able to pay water bills online after a cybersecurity incident prompted staff to disable most of the city's online systems nearly two weeks ago.

Information technology staff also have been working on getting more than 700 employee computers logged in with new passwords. Most, if not all, city employees should have access to email within the next day or two, said Keith Macedo, the city's information technology director.

Technology for the city's Development Services division should be back online by today, Macedo said. All of the city's financial services -- such as accounting, payroll and human resources -- are back online. Employees made payroll last week, and the outage will not affect employees getting paychecks on time, he said.

The city's information technology staff has been working with the cybersecurity company it keeps on retainer to get everything online. Staff from Springdale, the University of Arkansas and the Fayetteville Public Library also have been helping during the outage, Macedo said

"It's cool to get the regional partners helping out," he said.

The cause of the outage is still unknown. The cybersecurity company is still working to find out what happened, Macedo said.

It appeared someone changed several system files in an internal city application about 4 a.m. June 8. The action decreased the performance of the city's server. City staff shut down online systems as a precautionary measure to contain any potential damage.

The outage impacted phone lines, email, internet connections at city buildings, internal city programs, the online utility payment system and some other public-facing pages on the city website. Some public meetings were canceled or postponed. Phone lines were restored within a few days after the outage.

The Planning Commission held all of its agenda items when it met June 12 until its next meeting. The City Council used paper packets during an agenda-setting session last week. The web version of the council agendas are back online.

The goal is to make online public meetings available to the public on Zoom next week, Macedo said. Staff are hoping to get the broadcasts of City Council and Planning Commission meetings back on sooner, he said. Public meetings have been recorded using standalone cameras and microphones, rather than the equipment installed in the meeting rooms.

Wi-Fi will be down at city buildings likely for several more weeks, Macedo said. Many city employees have been using Wi-Fi hotspots during the outage.

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