Hacker cripples Hardin County Schools library system, demands ransom

JAN. 7– The Hardin County School System’s library computer network has been hacked and is being held for ransom, according to school officials.
An unknown organization or individual has infiltrated the network serving all seven libraries and inserted a “ransomware” program. The malicious software is designed to block access to a computer system until the demanded money is paid.
“We’ve heard about this kind of thing happening elsewhere,” said Hardin County Director of Schools Michael Davis, “but who would have ever thought it would happen here? This is the craziest thing I think I’ve ever seen.”
The hackers locked the library server system and encrypted all  the files.  They say they will send a code to undo the hack when paid.
The library server system tracks every book in every library in the school’s system. Without it, the libraries have no way other than old-fashioned paper and pencil to check books out to students or keep track of what books are out.
There is also no access to any kind of card catalog. Students can’t research where a needed book is in the library to help them find it on the shelves, for research projects or in-library reading.
“Our libraries aren’t completely shut down, but they surely aren’t going to be running full-throttle until we get this fixed,” said Levin Edwards, Hardin County Schools’ technology director.

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Bitter cold hits Hardin County, fire marshal warns of space heaters

DEC. 7-- It’s bitterly cold in Hardin County this morning and the State Fire Marshal’s Office is strongly urging Tennesseans to keep fire safety in mind as they endure the first truly frigid blast of winter.
Winter brings more fire-related tragedies to Tennessee as nearly half (47.9 percent) of all fatal fires in Tennessee occur between November-February, according to SFMO data. Year-round, heating fires account for 1 in 6 fatal fires – except from November-February when heating fires are the leading cause of fatal fires, accounting for 1 in 4 fatal fires.
Data shows that approximately 33.3 percent of fatal heating fires may have been caused by electric space heaters. The second leading possible source of ignition was wood stoves at 19 percent.
“The rash of recent fire-related fatalities has prompted us to redouble our outreach efforts,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “We’ll be working closely with local fire departments and other safety organizations this winter to help ensure that any resident in need of a smoke alarm can get one free of charge and can receive assistance in installing it, if necessary.”
State fire data shows that the greatest risk is yet to come. According to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System, January leads all other months in residential fires, heating fires, and fatal fires.
To help keep safe this winter, Tennesseans should utilize the following safety precautions to avoid common winter fire hazards and help prevent fire-related deaths:

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Crackdown on uninsured Tennessee drivers gets underway

JAN. 5-- A new law targeting uninsured motorists went into effect on Jan. 1, attacking the common practice of drivers without insurance skirting the law by avoiding traffic stops.
“When folks first come in to register they’ll have to show proof of insurance,” said Hardin County Clerk Connie Stephens, "but after that the computer will keep track automatically. It’ll take a few months to get used to the change, but I think this will be great for everyone.”
“Tennessee already has a financial responsibility law that applies to Tennessee drivers,” Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said.  “The goal of this new system is to efficiently and effectively check compliance in order to reduce the number of motorists who lack insurance or another form of financial responsibility.”
The James Lee Atwood Jr. Law was passed during the 2015 legislative session in order to help reduce the overall number of uninsured drivers on Tennessee roadways.  Although passed by the legislature two years ago, time was given to create the infrastructure of the program before implementation.
As part of this law, all insurance companies that write auto policies within the state are required to register those policies with the Tennessee Department of Revenue and provide the policy information.
The biggest change is that the department will maintain that policy information in a computer database, and continually check to see if there were any policy changes or cancellations.

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