Recorder's Office affected by cyber attack on vendor

Dec. 30—The Ashtabula County Recorder's Office has been forced to return to old methods after a cyber attack on a service used by the office.

County Recorder Barbara Schaab said she was informed that a vendor her office uses is down due to a cyber attack that took place on Christmas.

"So my services, as far as any digital application, is out of service until they can isolate the threat," Schaab said.

The attack impacted different counties in different ways, she said.

"In an effort to keep commerce and the economy running, we are receiving documents," Schaab said. "And what that means is, we are sequentially accepting documents, we are painstakingly numbering them, keeping them in the correct order, logging them in. We have been working with the title agencies that are using this, so that we can best serve them, to keep business running."

Thursday was the first day the office used the procedure.

"We sat tight for a couple of days before we could really know how to proceed," she said.

Schaab said she consulted with the Ashtabula County Prosecutor's Office to make sure the process was allowed under the Ohio Revised Code.

"In order for some of the disbursed money to still be utilized on that title industry side, we came up with this system of logging the documents in," Schaab said. "We are stamping them with a received stamp and a date, and we are applying the time that they were received to each document, and to the log. Then, when our system is back up, or some alternative system is put in place, we can then begin the digital recording of those documents, the way that everyone is used to in this day and age. But we've basically gone old-school."

Title examiners will be allowed to look at daily log-in sheets, then request to see corresponding documents, so they will know whether or not to proceed, she said.

She said there were a number of documents that were going to be brought to her office last Friday, but the weather caused the county offices to be closed, so there were a number of documents waiting to be submitted.

She recommended that, if people can wait to record documents, they do so.

"If you can wait to transfer until this comes to some solution, I would, and that's a personal decision," Schaab said. "I can only address what the Recorder's Office has put in place to accomodate what is already waiting, that has been transferred."

Schaab said waiting until the system is back online would be more seamless.

Schaab suggested that people working individually on a transfer reach out to a title agency, to see if the agency could help facilitate a deal.

"I think we have a good system in place, as far as accommodating everyone that has either been waiting, with transfer and deeds in hand," Schaab said. "We are definitely able to accommodate that, so that business can continue. It's cumbersome, and it's pretty much old-fashioned, but it's what we did before we entered the computer age."

She said she receives daily updates from the vendor on whether or not they expect the system to be back online the next day.

The Recorder's Office will close at 3 p.m. today.

"We want to make sure we have our best practices in-place, and we want to make sure that our logs are accurate and everything is good to go," Schaab said. "I don't know when this will come to a good solution."

Staff in the office is working as hard as they can, Schaab said.

"My priority, of course, as the Recorder's Office, is that I abide by the ORC and that I do everything in my power to protect the county records and the instruments we receive," she said.