Howard County government website was hacked with pro-ISIS message. (WJZ video)
Howard County officials are working to investigate a hack that occurred yesterday on the county government's website in which pro Islamic State messages were written on the site.
The hack, part of a larger attack on local government websites around the country, carried a message on the website that said President Donald Trump "will be held accountable" for "every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries." It went on to express love for the self-declared Islamic State, also known as ISIS, the organization the United States and its allies are fighting in Iraq, Syria and other countries.
The hack was detected Sunday afternoon, and the county's site was operating normally by 9:45 a.m. Monday morning, according to a statement released on the Howard County Government's Facebook page.
County Executive Allan Kittleman released a statement Monday afternoon on Facebook stating that no data or personal information was compromised in the hack. Kittleman stated that the website is on a public network hosted by a third party contractor and is completely separate from the Howard County government network.
"We will be working with our service providers and relying on our investigation to determine whether there are any additional steps to be taken," Kittleman said in the statement. "Howard County government is cooperating with federal law enforcement agencies, and will have no additional comment while the investigation is underway."
The county's Office of Public Information also released a statement online Monday morning, confirming the hack and that no data was compromised. Both the public information office and Kittleman declined to comment further on the situation. The Department of Technology and Communication Services also declined to comment separately.
Howard County's website can be used to electronically pay personal bills and citations including parking tickets and personal property taxes.
The County Council's website was not part of the hack, although the council was alerted of the issue by email on Sunday afternoon, Councilman Calvin Ball said.
Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty said Monday that the issue of cybersecurity has been a focus for several years in a county effort to "stay ahead" of possible security concerns. She said she has confidence in the county's IT department to investigate the hack and report its results.
Ball said that residents need to feel confident that their online records are secure, and that greater communication is needed between constituents and the county government on its response to the hack.
"[We] need to ensure that we are protecting the citizens of Howard County, their information [and] their ability to use the website with confidence," Ball said.