Photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer

City of Augusta hit by computer virus, City Center closed

in Augusta/City Government

Officials say a nasty, intentionally deployed virus shut down public safety computers and made the city’s entire network unusable, but the phone system and public safety radio system were not impacted.

A malicious computer virus that hit the city overnight and froze the city’s computer network forced the closure of Augusta City Center Thursday.

The virus, which officials said was intentionally inflicted upon the city’s servers, also shut down computers used by public safety dispatchers — but not the city’s phone system or the public safety radio system relied upon for dispatchers, police, fire and ambulance staff in the field to communicate.

Dispatchers, who don’t have access to their usual computer-aided dispatching system, are tracking calls and the activity and whereabouts of police officers, firefighters and ambulance crews manually.

“It’s not a threat to public safety,” Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager, said Thursday morning from the closed city center. “Dispatch is still answering, the phones are still working.”

What isn’t working is anything that relies on the computer network at Augusta City Center, including municipal financial systems, billing, automobile excise, assessor’s records or general assistance.

All those systems became inaccessible when the city’s network was hit by a virus, around 3:20 a.m. Thursday, which froze up the network.