JSO provides update on computer issues, says police response times not impacted

City leaders say there was a cyber ‘intrusion’ that has engineers assessing systems

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that police response times and service levels to the community have not been impacted. JSO also stressed that it has not been the target of a ransomware attack.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office provided an update Tuesday on its computer issues.

According to the city of Jacksonville, there was suspicious activity from an outside server that was flagged Friday, and JSO said in a statement Tuesday morning that its network engineers continue to assess systems.

The Sheriff’s Office said that police response times and service levels to the community have not been impacted. JSO also stressed that it has not been the target of a ransomware attack.

“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, out of an abundance of caution, proactively separated its servers from the city network,” the statement reads. “At this point, there have been zero indications of compromise to any of JSO’s systems.”

In a statement Sunday, Brian Hughes, the city of Jacksonville’s chief administrative officer said that cyber security detection software implemented within the last year detected suspicious activity Friday evening from an outside server and that when staff was alerted to a possible issue, they “were able to quickly disable the account and implement precautionary measures.”

“The situation is contained, and all systems are functioning properly. In an abundance of caution, the City and JSO have taken precautionary measures to limit access while cyber security teams finish a deep dive throughout the system,” the statement concludes.

Hughes also provided an update on Tuesday.

“There was, what tech people tell me, was an intrusion,” Hughes told News4JAX. “So it’s, you know, I liken it to this, if this if the city governments a bank, a bad guy walked into the lobby, and the cameras notice them, and we took precautions after that.”

News4JAX asked how often this happens.

“There are attempts all the time. It’s a nonstop thing. That’s why you bolster cybersecurity,” Hughes said. “There is no institution in America right now, government or major corporation, that doesn’t have consistent recurring attempts at intrusions.”

Hughes said the agency is prepared for lapses in technology, although no one would confirm that’s what occurred.

Questions remain about the cyber intrusion and its impact. Sources told News4JAX that precautionary measures slowed the process of filing arrest reports. And the Duval County courtroom where inmates make their first appearance before a judge also experienced a major decline in appearances on Monday and Tuesday. Usually, the Duval County courtroom is filled with people, but footage from the courtroom this week showed half the usual number of court appearances. JSO’s public Calls for Service webpage was also down as of Tuesday. In addition, News4JAX obtained an arrest report from over the weekend that says the suspect was processed into the system manually “due to citywide internet outages.”

“JSO had the capacity to do their job,” Hughes said. “They have a variety of ways to do that for this very occasion. Just like if a storm hit, if some other unprecedented event, you just, you go through a process of being ready to do things in a variety of ways.”

The FBI said in a statement Sunday that its cyber task force is working with the city to navigate the potentially suspicious activity on its system.

About the Authors:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.