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The Madera Tribune

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DMV? ‘It’s a disaster’

October 30, 2016

A story that hasn’t seen much newsprint or air time this week is the catastrophic failure of computers at most of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles offices.


“A failure of multiple hard drives on Monday wiped out most functions at many of DMV’s 188 offices for several days,” the Associated Press reported. “At the peak of the outage, two-thirds of DMV offices were affected.”


The AP also has learned from independent computer experts that it doesn’t appear the DMV has had a viable disaster recovery system in place. It’s time the DMV developed one.


While the DMV appears to be making progress toward having all of its servers up and running by as soon as Monday, one nevertheless has to wonder how some two-thirds of 188 offices could all crash at more or less the same time. It had to be some kind of outside interference.


Then we hear news that Hillary Clinton’s email woes are continuing, with thousands of leaks emanating from her supposedly secure system.


She shrugs this off on the campaign trail, but most of us who use email know that if our security were compromised in such a way, we probably would stop using email for good, or at least until the perpetrators of the hacks were apprehended and taken offline. 


Here at the Trib a few months ago, we were victims of a ransomware attack that basically shut down most of our computer functions. The attackers demanded money before they would show us how to get back in business. It took us quite a while to get completely out from under their thumbs.


What if the state welfare offices were hacked, and welfare cards couldn’t be issued or checks sent out? That would have a terrible effect on the families that depend on those payments, just as there were thousands — probably tens of thousands — of people who were negatively affected by the failure of the DMV system.


Practically everything that happens in state government depends on computer servers. For example, the collection of taxes could be halted by a hacker or group of hackers that wanted to created havoc or force the state to pay ransom to get its tax system turned back on.


Computerized crime has gone from being a rarity to being one of the two or three biggest problems law enforcement faces now and will have to face even more in the very near future. 


Expect new and stricter rules for the Internet as a side effect of these unwelcome developments that we are seeing happen right now.

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