Unsuccessful Hack on City of Ashland Website

The manager of the city's website believes that it was the target of an unsuccessful hack.

The manager of the city of Ashland’s website believes that hackers tried unsuccessfully to get into the city’s computer system.

“This type of activity is only going to continue,” said Eric Nelson the owner of SlickRockWeb which manages the city’s website.

Nelson noticed a spike in the amount of traffic from Russia and eastern European countries to the city’s website all the way back in March.

“At that time obviously none of this made any sense. There was no talk of Russian involvement in March,” said Nelson.

Nelson said he’s unsure exactly what the hackers were after, but possibly that Wisconsin was a swing state in the 2016 presidential election.

“They just tried to hit everything that they could. They probably knew what the swing states were going to be in the election,” said Nelson.

Nelson’s interest peaked after the news of possible hacking nationally after the election, but the city’s site remained secure.

“As far as I can tell nothing’s been compromised,” said Nelson.

Eight of the IP addresses found in a Homeland Security report matched those that Nelson found.

“It could’ve escalated,” said Nelson.

Another measure of security is that the website and the city’s network are completely isolated from one another.

“My guess is that they were successful elsewhere. The reason I put out the details is I want other people if they have the ability to check and see that they aren’t compromised,” said Nelson.

Nelson said that the suspicious activity stopped after the election and that he reached out to other local cities if they had been affected by a possible hack. He said that he spoke with officials in Bayfield who also noticed the same activity. The Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce website also saw a lot of visits from Russia as well.