CATAWBA COUNTY, NC - In Catawba County, letters are going out to more than 9,000 county employees, family members, and some retirees regarding a computer hack.
Officials discovered last October that some employee information may be compromised. Emails were sent to all county employees at that time to be on the lookout for identity theft issues. Experts were brought in to examine what exactly may have been compromised.
They determined that information contained in the county's health Insurance information in human resources may have been affected. They believe 187 people had their information compromised. That even included the county manager. Those people have been notified.
In addition, the county has sent out letters to 9,400 people advising them to be on the lookout for any issues that may come up. So far there is no evidence that any compromised information has been used by whoever hacked the system. Those 187 people directly affected are being offered two years of credit monitoring, the remainder of the 9400 people will be offered a year's worth.
In the meantime, officials say they have strengthened the cybersecurity of the system, and are continuing to do that. They believe the hackers got into the system by sending emails to county employees and when someone opened up one of those emails, malware got into the system.
Assistant County Manager Mary Furtado, who is among the 187 who had information stolen, is urging everyone to be vigilant against cyber thieves.
"We need to be diligent all the time," Furtado said.
Marketing Manager Amy McCauley was also in the group and says she is definitely taking steps.
"I'm keeping track of all my information," McCauley said.
County officials say the cyber breach has already cost the county $50,000 in deductible fees to the insurance company who is helping to pay for the experts who examined the system and for new cybersecurity efforts to shore up the computer system against hackers.
Insurance will also take care of the costs of the credit monitoring that is being offered. So far, the hackers have not been identified.