Archive for Cokato

Wright County Board chair, administrator respond to data security issue

BY JOHN HOLLER
Wright County Communications Specialist

BUFFALO, MN – Wright County Board of Commissioners Chair Christine Husom and County Administrator Lee Kelly are responding to a data security issue that occurred in early 2019, which has taken more than a year to investigate.

Jan. 31, 2019, the Wright County Information Technology Department discovered unusual activity in the county’s email system, as an unknown party was able to enter an individual email account in the county’s Office 365 system. The county took immediate steps to shut down the email system and to hire a computer forensics expert to analyze the specifics on what happened. April 22, 2019, the investigation revealed that a phishing email had involved 11 other email accounts.

The investigation searched every email in all the accounts, which was extremely laborious and time-consuming and wasn’t completed until Feb. 28, 2020. Additional analysis was completed in late-March 2020. As part of the investigative process, it was determined that personal, private or confidential information from 12,320 individuals was contained in the emails and document attachments.

“A distinction needs to be made about this process,” Kelly said. “This intrusion was in an employee email account, not the county’s network or databases. As part of the investigation, the computer forensics firm examined whether any of the information was used for the purposes of fraud or identity theft and found no instances of either. However, as a precaution just to be sure, the county is providing free access to all major consumer credit reporting agencies for those whose names were identified to assure that were not the victims of identity theft.”

The information that was potentially involved included names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, driver’s license/ID card numbers, medical/health insurance information financial account information private personnel data and personal information involving minors.

Since the 2019 incident, Wright County has taken preventive measures to enhance the security of its entire system, which Husom said has improved the security of the personal information the county holds and retains.

“There have been several steps that have been taken over the last year to strengthen the security of all of our county systems to help reduce the risk of something like this happening again,” Husom said. “When our IT director position came open, we hired someone with an extensive cybersecurity background with the US Department of Defense. We implemented a system of segregating protected and personal information from within the county’s cyber network. We implemented multi-factor authentication to access accounts. We have required all employees to take part in mandatory cybersecurity training to help identify email threats and to spot phishing emails. We can’t change what happened, but we have gone to great lengths to prevent it from reoccurring.”

As part of the notification process, a call center has been established for individuals to call to see if their names are on the list of those potentially impacted. The number is 833-979-2231 and is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

While the delay from when the incident took place until now has been more than 15 months, Kelly said it has been a process that was necessary given the time it took to fully complete the investigation and examine every page of every document that was red flagged.

“Unfortunately, this is the world we live in now,” Kelly said. “Many of the people who do these sorts of attacks aren’t out to steal anyone’s private information. Most just want to prove to themselves that they can find a way into a system. The fact that the investigation didn’t find any cases of identity theft over the last year among the names involved in the emails lends to that way of thinking that this wasn’t someone with malicious intent to steal identities and use people’s private information. We regret this happened, obviously, but we have done our due diligence to make sure that our system for protecting information and detecting those who try to get access to it has been strengthened to reduce the potential of a repeat of this type of attack.”

Cokato City Council taking public comment via drop box, email, or phone for tonight’s meeting

COKATO – The Cokato City Council plans to meet this evening at the Cokato City Hall for its regular monthly meeting.  The meeting is closed to the public, however the council is accepting public comment in three ways.

Citizens may deliver comments or questions to the utility payment drop box at city hall no later than 5 p.m. today.

Citizens may email comments or questions to bpotter@cokato.mn.us no later than 5 p.m. today.

Finally, citizens may appear via telephone during the meeting.  Residents wishing to use this communication method need to request placement on the meeting agenda no later than 5 p.m. today.  Resident comments are limited to a total of three minutes.

Agenda items for the meeting include:

• Consideration of a conditional use permit for Western Integrated Seed;

• Swimming pool operation/lifeguard position updates;

• Street and WWTF project updates;

• Storm sewer ordinance discussion.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Cokato Museum challenges people to create home exhibits

COAKTO – Missing museums?  The staff at the Cokato Museum have compiled some tips and tricks for crafting home exhibits.  They invite people to email photographs of their home exhibits to the museum, at info@cokatomuseum.org, by Sunday, May 10.  The top five will be posted the next day.

Step One: Brainstorm

In this first step you will want to figure out what your theme will be. Start by looking around your house to see what types of items you have that work together.  Do you have a lot of items from a particular era?  Is there a movie series that you have a lot of merchandise from? Or do you have a collection of buttons, trains, toy cars, etc.?  You do not need to know everything that will go into the exhibit, just know what theme you want to focus on.

Step Two: Find Materials and Objects

Items needed:

  • Sturdy table for displaying (At home ideas: Desk, dresser, or dining room table.)
  • Fabric (choice of fabric is up to you, some at home ideas, Sheets or tablecloth)
    • Make sure that the cloth that you pick enhances the items.
Example: if you have mainly dark objects, chose a lighter fabric, like white or beige. Whereas, if you have lighter objects, chose a darker fabric. (You can have more than one color to help bring out all of the objects, just make sure that all of the colors compliment each other.)

After finding all the objects that match the theme you are planning, you can now start putting it together.  Note: not everything that you grabbed needs to be used.  It may go with the theme but once you start putting it together things will start to fall into place.

Step Three: Assembling the exhibit
Now that you have your materials and objects, the next step is to start setting up.

  • Start by laying down your fabric.
  • Then you can start placing objects where you would like. ​There may be a particular piece that you want to make sure makes it in the display.  Start with that piece and work around it.
  • ​Note: Pay attention to height. You may need to add some height to certain objects, so that they are visible. (At home fix for height: Books or scrap pieces of 2×4)

Step Four: Finishing touches

  • Once you have most of the items in their places, check to make sure that it flows visually.
Step Five: Finished
Now it is time to show your display to your family and friends.
​When you are finished, if you are interested, share with us in the comments below your own at home exhibit.

Send us photos of your exhibits and we will post the top five on Monday, May 11.  You may email photos to: info@cokatomuseum.org

Wright County spring load restrictions to end Monday, May 4

WRIGHT COUNTY – The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDoT) will end spring load restrictions in the central frost zone, which includes the highways on the Wright County highway system, Monday, May 4 beginning at 12:01 a.m.

DC School Board to meet Monday to award parking lot bid

The Dassel-Cokato School Board has called a Zoom meeting Monday, May 4 to review bid proposals and award a bid for the parking lot/new road project to be constructed behind the middle/high school building.The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

DC School Board discusses potential graduation plans

The Dassel-Cokato School Board discussed graduation ceremony ideas during its Zoom meeting Monday evening.

The board also reviewed how distance learning and meal delivery was going throughout the district.

See the Friday, May 1 edition of the Enterprise Dispatch for details.