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County Still Working to Fully Restore Central GIS

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A slow process continues to make progress as the Hernando County Property Appraiser’s office works to restore the Central Geographic Information System (GIS).

The Central GIS was significantly impacted by the recent ransomware attack on March 30, limiting its functionality and leaving realtors struggling to perform typical transactions.

According to Manny Padron, chief deputy of administration and technology for the property appraiser speaking at the May 6 Brooksville City County meeting, that’s the price to pay for a thorough process to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. That price will continue to rise, he said, quite literally.

“The fact that we’re at where we are right now, that it’s been five weeks and we’re this close to trying to get back to normal is pretty incredible,” said Padron, praising the work of county IT in dealing with the aftermath of the attack. “My biggest concern is, let’s not push without realizing that if we push too fast, here’s what AI brings to our new world. What a programmer used to do in hacking into a system, now AI is going to do it.

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“I was in the military for 20 years, been here for 21 years. You’re going to experience this within the next five years. If AI keeps going the way it’s going, you’re going to have to adjust your budgets.”
Padron noted, unlike during his time in the military, there is simply no fighting the “bunch of lowlifes” who sit in backrooms performing these hacks. The best that can be done is taking preventative measures that take time to implement.

“Let’s give them the time to build us, to protect us in this new environment where we’re headed. Because we’re not going to get away from it,” Padron said. “… We’re going to have to pay for security software that is not cheap.

“What we’re experiencing already, and the public is going to complain about it, we understand. When you try to bring up an email right now, it takes a little bit longer. When you try to open a Word document, it takes a little bit longer. When you try to open an Excel document, it takes a little bit longer. Because it’s running its check. That’s what we have to do. It’s either that or expose ourselves completely to a problem like this in the future.”

The Central GIS system could be fully running soon, but there isn’t a firm date as of yet. “If you put it back in place, at how it was prior, you just open the doors for someone else to come in and do the same thing we had experienced,” Hernando County Clerk of Circuit Court Doug Chorvat said. “We will be restricting things a lot more intensely than we have. Things are a little bit slower, they’re going to be slower until we can get things back up and running the way we should be.”

George Welsted, Clerk of Circuit Court IT director, added this: “it’s not if, it’s when” these attacks will occur and safeguards are the only answer. “We’re all working extremely hard,” Welsted said. “Our system on the county side, we’ve got over 400 servers that we maintain. Trying to get all of those back up and running in the priority that everybody wants them is impossible.

“… If you look at statistics for this type of event, we are way ahead of the curve. These are 3-4-month events. We’re sitting at one and we’ve got most things back online.”

Chris Bernhardt
Chris Bernhardt
A resident of Spring Hill since 1986, Chris graduated from Springstead High in 1999 before moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Central Florida. In summer of 2003 he joined the staff at Hernando Today, working at the paper for 11 years as a sports reporter, the last three as sports coordinator in charge of the paper’s sports coverage. After an initial 3-year stint with Hernando Sun, he spent four years as a staff sports reporter at the Citrus County Chronicle. Follow on X @cpbernhardtjr.
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