Computer glitch causes headaches for schools, police

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By Stephen Thomas

SHEPHERDSVILLE - A computer glitch caused many of Bullitt County Public Schools' computers to shut down Wednesday morning.

However, the virus that caused the issue was technically not a virus at all.

At about 10:45 a.m. schools reported major computer issues, with many individual computers shutting down on their own.

BCPS technology director Jim Jackson said the event, which was experienced nationwide, was a virus definition file released into an antivirus system.

What that means is that a safe Windows file was mistaken as a virus by the McAfee antivirus system used by BCPS.

"It made the system think it was a virus, but it was not really," said Jackson. "It was a mistake in the McAfee system that the county uses."

The Kentucky State Police Mobile Data Terminal system was also affected, according to Shepherdsville Police Capt. Ken Bernardi.

"It has nothing to do with our system internally," Bernardi said. He mentioned that local police units could not access information on laptop computers in their vehicles.

Bernardi said SPD was checking computers to make certain antivirus systems were functioning properly.

Jackson said Bullitt County was working in conjunction with technical advisers representing Kentucky Educational Technology Systems (KETS), which manages the statewide computer network. He said some internal solutions have been determined but the local school system continued to follow the state's lead in fixing the situation.

"Some machines are working, but most are not," said Jackson. "We're hoping we can get these machines back up and working without having to touch each one."

According to Jackson, the situation was a productivity issue. He said local computers should not lose any stored files.

"We've had virus outbreaks in the past, then we put safeguards in place to shield it," he said. "This particular one was just a fluke."

Jackson said a solution was determined as of Thursday morning. Technical advisors were dispatched to area schools to begin the process of removing the bad file, replacing it with a new file distributed by the state.

"We're working with the school technology coordinators," he said. "About 90 percent of school computers have been affected so far. We'll probably get to 100 as some may have problems when rebooting."

Jackson said the only technical issue following the glitch was that some computers lost all sound. Local techs were unsure of the cause.

"It's a cosmetic issue but tricky with testing around the corner," he added.

Technical advisors continued to visit schools on Thursday. Jackson estimated 50 to 75 percent of computers would return to functional by the afternoon.

"Everything seems to be moving quickly," he said.