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City website hacked, could be down for couple weeks

The city’s website, www.BCNV.org, was hacked last week, according to city officials.

Community Development Director Brok Armantrout said he first noticed something was wrong last Thursday, May 16, when he received a complaint from a resident that the link to BCTV was not working.

After accessing the website, Armantrout said he found that a number of the website’s internal pages were replaced with images, including a cartoon devil and writing which appeared to be in a Baltic language.

The website was taken down following the discovery, Armantrout said.

“We took it down so that they wouldn’t be able to do that anymore,” he said.

The website was still down Tuesday.

The personal information of residents was not in jeopardy, Armantrout said, because the city’s Web hosting is separate from the city’s billing systems.

Armantrout said Tuesday the city was working with the website’s Las Vegas-based hosting company, LasVegas.net, to make changes that will make it less vulnerable to hackers. He said it may take a couple of weeks for the website to be totally restored.

While the conversion is occurring, the website will be restored to what it was before the hack, but will be “locked down” so no hackers can access it, Armantrout said. This also means that the city will be unable to update it with new information, or send out emails to residents.

Residents wishing to receive the May 28 City Council agenda or other city information will need to visit the City Clerk’s office, Armantrout said.

It is unknown who hacked the website, but according to Armantrout it is common for foreign hackers to hack the websites of American cities, thinking they are a gateway into the larger government infrastructure.

However, according to Armantrout, local websites are not connected to state and federal websites.

“A lot of people outside the U.S. don’t understand how we work here in the U.S.,” he said.

Armantrout said he believes the city’s website was hacked because it mentions Hoover Dam.

“(Hackers) probably assumed if you can hack into the website, you can hack into Hoover Dam,” he said.

The city’s website was also hacked earlier this year, when a hacking program attempted to gain control of the city’s ability to send emails.

Thousands of fake email addresses were registered to receive city notices, causing the city’s notification system to crash every time notices were sent out.

The city had to purge all email addresses subscribed to receive city updates, and request that residents re-register for updates.

Armantrout said he believes that incident and the recent hack were connected.

“We thought we solved the problem because we thought the problem was bad email addresses … now I’m beginning to think (otherwise),” he said.

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