Virus fells town Web site (5/6/10)

May 6, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

A computer virus infected Williston’s Web site last week, incapacitating the page until Monday afternoon.

A hacker installed the virus on the town’s Web server early Thursday morning, said Town Manager Rick McGuire. Town employees who have the Web site, www.town.williston.vt.us, as their homepage discovered the virus, McGuire said.

The program was a scanner virus that told visitors their computers had a virus and then began to scan their computers, which could create further problems.

McGuire serves as the Web master for the site, but he was out of town on a training trip. Kim Peine, who handles IT at Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, came in and located the virus on the town computer system, McGuire said. An outside company helps Williston with tech issues, but the person who works with the town was also on vacation, McGuire said. That person returned on Monday and was able to fully resolve the problem.

That left the site offline from Thursday through Monday afternoon. Visiting the Web address showed a Web page with a note saying, “This site is down for maintenance. Please check back again soon.”

McGuire did not expect to track down the hacker. He was also unaware of any other municipalities in the area having similar problems.

The town uses Joomla as its content management system. McGuire wants to upgrade or update the software, which he said could prevent future problems with viruses.

McGuire said it may be possible that the virus infected the computers of anyone who visited the town of Williston Web site. He recommended that anyone who fears having an infected computer use virus removal software or contact a tech person for help.