IRON COUNTY — The Iron County Commission voted unanimously Monday to approve the Iron County Information Technology Department to use approximately $20,000 to go towards increasing security in order to comply with an upcoming F.B.I safety audit. The commision also signed an agreement regarding the sale of the Iron County Ambulance real estate and assets.
In a pre-audit security training, IT Director Jared Wilson said, it was discovered that the county will need to purchase new hardware, software and other security equipment to meet standards for security and safety against virus, hackers and other possible technological dangers.
These items were not budgeted for, Wilson said, so the commission would need to approve funding to go towards buying and implementing these new protections.
“That’s the main purpose of this,” Wilson said, “is to ask for approval to purchase some servers, intrusion protection software and then hardware to run it.”
When discussing how the security implements would work, Iron County Commissioner Alma Adams asked if it would be easier to use cloud computing rather than having servers in-house.
In response, Wilson said going the route of cloud computing would actually force them to increase their security even more than they are now. Additionally, equipment on site would still need to be given security upgrades.
“We’re still going to have to have our firewalls and our routers and everything else that hit through our system to get to those,” Wilson said. “So there is still a lot we’d have to put in place so the cost benefit on it is not worth it.”
The estimated costs for the upgrades, Wilson said, are expected to be around $15,000-$20,000 dollars. When Commission Chair Dale Brinkerhoff asked what the other options were, Wilson said another option would be going the more expensive route by buying a third-party intrusion system for around $80,000-$120,000.
The federal representatives will be returning to conduct the actual audit on both June 2 and June 4, Wilson said. By then, the county will be given timelines and dates for when they need to have these improvements in place.
“So then, we’ll know for sure, exactly when we have to be compliant,” Wilson said. “We’re just wanting to get on top of it and get it going now.”
With these upgrades, Wilson said, law enforcement will likely see the bulk of the security increase; but county workers will also see improvements in increased protections, including passwords and computers timing-out.
In addition, Wilson said he will likely need an additional employee to assist with the increasing workload these changes are going to bring about. The IT department will be required to monitor logs and reports at a minimum of once a week.
“This is ongoing,” Wilson said. “This is going to be every week, once a week, constantly.”
In the meeting, Commissioner Dave Miller asked how the law goes about apprehending and prosecuting those who attempt or succeed at breaching sites and databases.
In response, Iron County Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser said there are two ways to go about it. The first is going after them from where the person committed the crime, and the other is where the crime occurred. However, he said, it is next to impossible to figure out where the hack or virus came from.
“If you can slow them down,” Wilson said, “then you’re doing a good job.”
Not all threats come from an outside force either, Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said. The increase in security will also allow protection of internal threats as well, such as someone accessing or deleting documents they shouldn’t be.
To conclude the agenda item, the commission voted unanimously to allow approximately $20,000 from the county budget to be adjusted and put towards allowing the IT department to purchase the necessary hardware and software to meet the requirements. The commission also asked Wilson to access his needs and return at a later date to discuss possibly adding more workers to his department to help with the increasing workload.
Iron County Ambulance assets and real estate
In the second half of their commission meeting Monday, the Iron County Commissioners met with Gold Cross CEO Gene Moffitt, where they discussed and signed an agreement regarding the sale of the Iron County Ambulance real estate and its assets.
The commissioners voted to privatize the ambulance service in early March; voting to have Gold Cross Ambulance take the reins of a service which had accrued $2.1 million in debt over the past 10-15 years.
At the meeting, Moffitt said he had met with the various fire chiefs around Iron County and was also working to meet with the area’s city mayors as well to discuss what to expect with the transition.
During the meeting, Adams asked Moffitt exactly how many ambulances would be staged and staffed at any given moment in the Cedar City area.
“We will have two ambulances staged and staffed,” Moffitt said. “We (also) have two standbys on-call.”
The on-call group will be paid an hourly stipend to carry a pager, Moffitt said, and will also be paid an hourly rate if they are called in. Should a fifth ambulance need to be called out, one could be pulled either from Parowan or the St. George area.
In the middle of June, Moffitt said, Gold Cross Ambulance is expecting to host different open-house meetings; one for the various public officials in the area and another where the general public can attend, ask questions, and learn more about the new ambulance service.
In regards to the fate of the Iron County Ambulance employees, Brinkerhoff said Gold Cross Ambulance set aside two days for these employees to come in and sign up for employment opportunities.
“They got about 35 (people) the first day and 15 on the next,” Brinkerhoff said.
The transition to the new ambulance service is expected to happen quite quickly, Miller said, and Gold Cross Ambulance in Iron County will be operational by May 1.
Working with a professional organization like Gold Cross Ambulance has been a good experience, Miller said. They are already introducing innovations that will help make the ambulance service better and he looks forward to continuing to work with them to give Iron County the best service possible, he said.
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