July 16, 2020

Y2K security concerns spur state to review e-mail

AUGUSTA — While security concerns have prompted the shutdown of some state and national government Web sites as the calendar rolls over to 2000, Mainers will still be able to access their state’s site come the new millennium.

Any e-mail sent to the site in the hour before and after the strike of midnight Friday, however, will be stored and individually reviewed to ensure computer hackers don’t introduce their own bugs into the system, according to a state official.

“We have some concerns about some people flooding us with e-mail during that time or trying to introduce viruses,” Bob Mayer, the state’s chief information officer, said Wednesday. “E-mail sent here around that time won’t go through to its destination without review.”

Mayer said he thought it important to keep the site up and running so people could easily access the state’s year-2000 operational plan, which is available online.

With officials confident that any potential date-related computer glitches are under control, the added threat of New Year’s Eve cyberattacks has prompted some state and federal government agencies, including the Pentagon, to take certain Web sites off line until after the new year.

While Maine has its own plan, some New England states are taking similar precautions.

In New Hampshire, all public access to the state’s Web sites was shut off at 4 p.m. Thursday, according to Donald Hill, commissioner of administrative services for the state of New Hampshire, who called the move a “precautionary measure.”

“We just want to make sure everything is all right before we open the gates again,” Hill said. He added that, if all goes well, the sites should be back online by the start of business Monday.

Massachusetts residents will still be able to log on to their state’s Internet sites, according to Sarah Bourne, director of the Internet Services Group in the state’s Informational Technology Division.

“We believe it’s better that people have access,” Bourne said Thursday. “Our goal has always been business as usual.”

Bourne said she had no additional security concerns with the arrival of the new millennium, in part because those who access the state’s Web site cannot send e-mail — and presumably any attached viruses — into its server.

Officials in Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut said they also had no plans to shut off public access to their state’s Web sites.

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