Bucks County officials announced on Tuesday evening the partial restoration of the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, nine days after a debilitating ransomware cyberattack.
In a statement, the Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications said it had “restored core functionality.”
“Staff brought the CAD system back online Tuesday afternoon, allowing emergency telecommunicators to use the automated system for the first time since Jan. 21 when a ransomware attack brought the system fully offline. Dispatchers in the interim relied on backup systems to document and dispatch calls for service. At no point during the outage were the county’s 9-1-1 calltaking abilities interrupted,” the statement said.
The county also restored access to state and federal law enforcement databases.
The access to the state and federal databases was cut after the attack, which led to delays in getting the information to officers on the streets, sources said.
Throughout the outage, the county has continued to operate its 9-1-1 and radio dispatch systems.
“We here at Emergency Services cannot say enough about the kindness, professionalism and patience our first responder community has extended to us during this outage – especially to our 9-1-1 dispatchers who have been working extra hard,” said Bucks County Emergency Services Director Audrey Kenny. “With some of the weight lifted from our dispatchers, we now look forward to working with our partner agencies to restore their full access to these critical tools as quickly and safely as we possibly can.”
With help from federal and state agencies, including the Pennsylvania National Guard, the county has been working to restore access to the CAD system after its outage caused impacts to law enforcement, fire companies, and ambulance squads.
County officials said there will be continuous monitoring of the restored systems to detect any threats or technical issues.
In a Tuesday evening email to municipal officials and responders, county officials said they are working to restore access to alert apps for firefighters, station printers, and in-vehicle mobile data terminals.
Officials said that as of Tuesday, a timeline for full restoration of CAD had not been established.
As this news organization reported over the weekend, county officials said they have informed “local, state and federal partners that the ransomware ‘Akira’ is involved so that they can have situational awareness and review their own systems. ”
Akira is a cyberattack gang that has hit governments and businesses. The gang can charge millions to release captured data, according to various news reports from around the globe.
Sources have said federal law enforcement has been investigating the attack.
Law enforcement and county officials have not commented on the investigation.
Officials have not stated how much the ransom request was, whether the county had been talking with the attackers, if the county paid the ransom, or what will happen to the captured information, which includes sensitive data handled by emergency crews.
The outage has forced emergency responders across Bucks County to rely heavily on traditional methods like pen and paper for tracking calls.