The city of Paragould has managed to avoid a potential hacking of its computer system.

“It looks like we dodged the bullet,” said Paragould Mayor Josh Agee this week.

Agee said the city’s hard drives were not compromised. He said problems first became evident on March 18. City offices had noted inability to send or receive emails as of the next day. Agee said with the removal of files from the hard drives to the Internet Cloud, the system had started to show signs of improvement. “It was better on Tuesday [i.e. March 23],” he said, “and by Wednesday [March 24] it was working again.”

In any case, the mayor said, the situation had highlighted areas in which computer security in the city’s network could be improved.

“The use of computers and the Internet is so widespread in the city offices,” Agee said, “that we hired another IT [information technology] technician to work with [IT chief] Shane Stovall.”

The individual, Ryan Hankins, started work Monday.

Agee had explained after the March 22 City Council meeting that the city’s email system had been inoperative because Microsoft Outlook appeared to have been hacked earlier. “We called the [Arkansas] Municipal League,” he said, “and just about every city in the state has been hit with it.”

Agee said the city had kept emails in-house. “We are moving all of those emails into the [Internet] Cloud to make it safer for us,” he said.

The “cloud” is a vast network of remote servers around the globe, all hooked together and meant to operate as a single system. These servers are designed to either store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or a service like:

Streaming videos

Web mail

Office productivity software

Social media

Instead of accessing files and data from a local or personal computer, the user accesses them online from any Internet-capable device – the information will be available anywhere at anytime.

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