County board can't hack an unsafe network

June 10, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Despite the state budget crisis that's also hitting counties, Calaveras County supervisors on Monday authorized the purchase of a new firewall system to protect the county's computer network from hackers.

A firewall is hardware that limits access from the Internet to private networks.

The new system, which costs $8,913, will protect all the servers in the county. The current system leaves the county's Web servers unguarded and vulnerable to hackers.

If a hacker were to access a Web server, he or she could then access other servers on the network, said Howard Stohlman, director of the county's Technology Services Department.

That could put private information such as health records at risk.

The purchase will be paid for mostly by money that has been saved within the technology department during the current budget cycle. Maintenance on the service will cost $878 annually starting July 2004.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul Stein said departments shouldn't be spending the money saved during this budget cycle, predicting the upcoming fiscal year will be just as financially stifling.

In the end, though, Stein joined other board members in approving the purchase.

Stohlman has said that if a hacker were to break into the county's network, the cost of repairing the damage could be greater than the cost of the new firewall.

Supervisors voted to keep San Andreas resident Harleigh Winkler as the county archivist through Oct. 31, 2004.

Under the new contract, Winkler will be paid $500 per month to spend at least 16 hours each week in the archives building in historic downtown San Andreas.

Winkler has served as the county archivist since last autumn.

As archivist, Winkler keeps track of records from the county's earliest days, including court records, newspapers, assessment rolls, tax records and property records. The building is also home to many area artifacts.