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Porter County government cracks down on employee Web access

Updated: April 7, 2013 6:32AM



VALPARAISO — A virus that brought down Porter County government’s computer system for three days last week prompted action by the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to limit what employees can do on their work computers.

Board of Commissioners John Evans, R-North, said the county has a computer policy but has been light on enforcement.

“I guess this has shown us that we can’t be lax,” he said.

Information technology services director Sharon Lippens said there are number of ways the virus could have infected the system, but said it’s best not to expose county government computers to social media and gaming sites, which aren’t critical for county business.

The county is expanding its bandwidth, Lippens said, which allows employees to use personal smart phones, tablets and laptops on their lunch hours without jeopardizing the county’s computer system.

Evans said employees would need to bring those devices to the IT department to get the password for the county’s Internet access.

Lippens will work with planning and other departments that need further-reaching Internet access for the work that they do.

Regardless, county officials will keep a closer eye on what Web sites workers are accessing.

“We will be looking at what people will be doing, and we will be looking even closer at what they’re doing with our computers,” Evans said.

In other business, commissioners amended the ordinance dictating the structure of the Porter County Redevelopment Commission.

“The Redevelopment Commission has been kind of handcuffed by our own doing,” Evans said, adding the County Council’s appointee to the commission has changed several times. “It’s pretty hard to keep any continuity into people giving input.”

The council gets two appointees to the five voting members of the board — the president, or his designee, and a second person.

The president’s designee has shifted a number of times since the commission began meeting last year and is now Councilwoman Sylvia Graham. D-at large, who recently attended her first meeting.

The council selected as its other appointment Councilman Jim Polarek, R-4th. Under the amended ordinance, the second appointee by the council cannot be an elected official.

The Board of Commissioners gets three appointees — its president or his designee, and two additional members. Those also cannot be elected officials.

The sixth member is nonvoting and represents the school community.



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