Cyberattack shuts down Fremont County offices, disrupting government services

Fremont County, outside of Cañon City. Oct. 27, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Fremont County, outside of Cañon City. Oct. 27, 2021.

Fremont County in Southern Colorado is dealing with the fallout of a cyberattack. County services are limited as officials assess the full impact. 

The cyberattack was discovered Wednesday, but county officials didn’t announce it until Friday. It’s not clear whether the breach was part of a ransomware attack or if hackers targeted a specific service. The county believes the attack is contained to their servers and has not spread to other local or state systems.

“We are working to restore county services that were impacted by the cybersecurity event as quickly and safely as possible. We understand it can be very hard to wait, but please know we are waiting right alongside all of you. We also are seeking answers even as we are working around the clock to restore all county government services,” Fremont County Commissioner Chairperson Debbie Bell said in a statement. “We have every confidence in the team we have assembled and will seek resolution as quickly as possible.”

Office computer systems have been affected, and county employees are unable to access their business emails due to the attack. All of the county’s buildings remain closed, including public health buildings. Bell said they have no timeline for reopening. 

Some services, like emergency 911 calls and COVID-19 testing, are still functional. The county is focused on bringing other rapid-response services back online.

Fremont County’s Emergency Management team and the Governor's Office of Information Technology have been mobilized as part of a joint incident response team, with support from various state and federal partners. 

Daily updates on the attack and available services can be found on Fremont County’s temporary website and its social media accounts. 

Cyberattacks have previously targeted and crippled several Colorado agencies. In 2018, the state Department of Transportation was taken offline by hackers. The department was able to avoid paying a bitcoin ransom due to a robust, but pricey, backup plan.