Hackers Attack Macon County Circuit Clerk’s Website

Is Your Site Vulnerable? Read How the LRS Team Recovered and Secured the Website

By Karen Carlson


“It was horrifying.”

So says Robert Bellah, Court Technology Administrator for Macon County Circuit Clerk.
He arrived at work on a Monday morning in August 2019 to find a terrible surprise:
the homepage for Macon County Circuit Clerk had been hacked.

The webpage was stripped and replaced with an image of a Guy Fawkes mask
and an Iranian flag and disturbing text.

“My heart sunk, and I panicked,” Robert says.

Website Security Threats

Website security is easy to overlook or postpone. So many other things warrant your attention: website design and development, navigation, content and imagery, the list goes on.

But without website security measures to protect your website, you are leaving your information -- and possibly personal and financial data -- at risk to hackers. 

It's difficult to keep up with the ever-changing threats to your computer systems. LRS Web Solutions makes website security a priority for our website design clients and certainly for our clients who host their website with us through LRS® Network Support.   

LRS® Web Solutions makes website security a priority for our website design clients and certainly for our clients who host their website with us through LRS Network Support.   

Stuck in Panic Mode? Help is On the Way

Robert's first call was to the company that provided hosting services to the Macon County Circuit Clerk website, but that call just added to his stress and frustration. “They were little to no help,” Robert recalls. “They basically said, ‘It’s your problem.’ ”

To “host” the site means the company stores the website files and makes sure that the files are visible on the internet. If the hosting company doesn’t maintain strong security measures, the files could get hacked like Macon County.

With no help from their hosting company, Robert’s next call was to LRS Web Solutions. LRS had designed and built the site 8 or 10 years ago but handed off the files to the hosting company.

LRS Web Solutions’ Helpdesk team immediately investigated the problem. Thankfully, all the critical information like personal data or sensitive records was secure.  

The LRS team found the vulnerabilities, ran the patches, and restored the site. 

“I was in panic mode," Robert says. "I knew calling LRS would give me the most gains. The LRS team was fantastic. They basically took reins. When I called asking for a status update, they answered the phone and were on it quickly. I was happy and confident leaving it up to them.”

As it turned out, unpatched software from the hosting vendor made Macon County vulnerable to hackers. Other websites in Tennessee and Oregon, Texas and 2 others in Illinois were also hacked with the same message, according to a report in the Decatur Herald & Review.  Robert says that they were all built on the same widely used content management system, Dot Net Nuke (DNN).

"I knew calling LRS would give me the most gains. The LRS team was fantastic." 

-Robert Bellah

The LRS team assigned to the project ran the scans, found the vulnerabilities, ran the patches, and restored the site.

“Still, I had a few sleepless nights pacing the halls at home,” Robert admits.

With LRS’s great service, the Macon County website was up and running by the end of the same day.

“The incident was more scary than dangerous,” Robert says, adding that he is grateful for LRS’s work.  “I’ve worked with LRS for years. They are always professional and efficient.”

New Website Hosting and Content Management System

lrs antilles logoTo prevent future hacks and sleepless nights, LRS now hosts the Macon County website, and the site has also moved over to the secure LRS Antilles Content Manager.

“LRS Antilles is great. It’s simple to work with and WYSIWYG [What You See Is What You Get],” Robert says. “Editing pages is simple, and it’s what we’re all used to seeing as far as content editing window. It’s pretty sleek. I want to be more active on the website and this will help me.”

Using his previous website editor, Robert says he had to learn HTML “and learn everything else” and that was problematic. He likes that LRS Antilles is built by LRS and as such, “It’s a smaller target” for hackers and has a great Helpdesk team to quickly address problems.

Having a secure website is vital to the Macon County citizens visiting the circuit clerk’s website for information, according to Robert. “Nobody comes to the courthouse happy except for the people who work here. Any chink in the armor and people freak out. We need our website to be stable.”

With the LRS team providing content management and secure hosting, the Macon County Circuit Clerk’s website is more stable and stronger than ever ‑‑ and Robert is sleeping much better.

For help with your website security, including website hosting, contact LRS Web Solutions.


Ready for a new website in 2020? 

Mention this blog to receive our Vision 2020 hosting discount!