Local News

Internet Virus Hits DMV Computers, Causes Slowdowns At Offices

Posted August 25, 2005

— The North Carolina Department of Transportation said Wednesday that an Internet virus that infected some computers at Division of Motor Vehicles offices throughout North Carolina Tuesday compromised only customers' convenience, not their personal information.

Customers said they usually expect a long wait and maybe even some hassles at DMV offices, but nothing like what they experienced over the past two days as a result of the Zobot and Esbot viruses that forced the shutdown of license tag offices.

"They were not happy that the computer was down," said Marla Pearson, who runs a tag office in Cary. "We'd much rather wait on a lobby full of customers than to have to turn them away. It's a lot less stress."

Customers who were sent away earlier in the week, had to come back.

"I put off as long as I could to have to come up here, and then when I actually do come up here -- and then I couldn't even get the stuff I needed to get done," said Courtney Turner. "So, I have to waste another day."

The DOT's chief information officer, Mark Paxton, said the computer virus was contained to only tag offices.

"For the most part, it was more of a nuisance than it was anything that's serious," Paxton said.

Yet, local driver's license officers told WRAL that they also experienced computer troubles that interrupted operations for about an hour Tuesday morning. When they called for help, they were told it was a statewide problem.

"It's possible that there were problems elsewhere that would have impacted them," Paxton said.

Now, the challenge for officials is to figure out how to keep it from happening again.

"Obviously, there's things that one can always do better," Paxton said. "After an incident like this, one always examines the steps that you take. And if there are things you can do better, you look to do those better."

Technology workers must go through each computer in more than 120 license tag offices to fix the problem. They expect to have all computers and offices up and running again by Thursday.

The DMV said online operations were not affected.

In May, the DMV came under fire for other computer problems. Investigators say a contract worker downloaded information on millions of people in the DMV system.

Authorities said the employee got the addresses of nearly 4 million North Carolinians and apparently tried to get Social Security numbers, but was caught and the information never got past the employee's work computer.

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