Mohave County IT Department Receives National Award

Lake Havasu City, AZ – The Center for Digital Government (CDG) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) have awarded Mohave County’s Information Technology (IT) Department with a 2014 Digital Counties Survey Award. This annual award recognizes leading examples of counties using information and communications technology to improve services and boost efficiencies.  The survey identifies best technology practices among counties nationwide in four population categories.  “Mohave County was the only county in Arizona, among all four population categories, to achieve this honor.  Our IT Department ranked in the same category as well-known counties across the nation such as Arlington County, Virginia and Charleston County, Maryland,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. According to Information Technology Director Nathan McDaniel, this is the second year in a row the county has received this prestigious award.  “In today’s tough economy, IT departments are facing tough financial barriers while trying to help improve government services and efficiency,” Johnson stated.  “Mohave County’s IT Department has gone above and beyond in finding ways to provide better information security, transparency, and citizen engagement,” Johnson continued. One significant accomplishment done by Mohave County’s IT Department is the development of their online meeting portal.  “Instead of spending a substantial amount on third party software and monthly maintenance fees, the Department used their own personnel to write a program that allows users to choose a meeting date and an agenda item and the video is advanced to that item for their review,” Johnson explained. To view Mohave County’s online meeting portal, please visit: www.mohavecounty.us For more information on the 2013 Digital Counties Survey Award please visit: http://www.digitalcommunities.com/survey/counties/ ###

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Seeks Disbandment of Colorado City/Hildale Marshall’s Office

Lake Havasu City, AZ –The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has announced that Attorney General Tom Horne has filed a proposed form of Judgment in the U.S. District Court, seeking, among other things, the disbandment of the Colorado City, Arizona/Hildale, Utah Marshal’s Office and the appointment of a federal monitor over municipal functions and services.  “Attorney General Horne has been relentless in going after corrupt police departments and is adamant in his protection of women and children.   I applaud his action and all the hard efforts he has taken throughout the last four years assisting with the problems we have seen in Colorado City,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. The Judgment filed yesterday provides for the transfer of full responsibility and authority for law enforcement and police dispatch services within the municipalities to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, with all expenses paid by Colorado City and Hildale.  According to Johnson, the Colorado City/Hildale Marshal’s Office has operated for decades under the rule of now imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs.  “Attorney General Horne takes his job seriously and is one of the few Attorneys General in the past decade who has stood up to the corrupt law enforcement in the area,” Johnson stated. During the past three years, the Attorney General’s Office has transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office to have deputies stationed in Colorado City.  “The Sheriff’s presence in the town has been extremely helpful,” Johnson commented.  “We have been able to help girls escape who wouldn’t have had the opportunity had the deputies not been there,” Johnson ended. ###

Johnson Warns of Malware Software That Could Be Lying Dormant on Thousands of Computers

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to make the public aware of two malicious software schemes that have already stolen over $100 million from individuals and businesses worldwide. Johnson, who sits as one of the Vice-Chairs for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Cyber Security Task Force, is urging computer users to take the required steps necessary to protect themselves from these malicious software programs. “These programs have the power to drain an individual’s bank account without them even knowing it,” Johnson said. The U.S. Justice Department has announced that anywhere between 500,000 and 1 million machines worldwide were affected by the virus’s known as Gameover Zeus which steals banking passwords and Crytolocker, which encrypts files and blackmails the users for their release. The Gameover Zeus software has seen the most activity in the United States by hitting over 13% of all computers in the nation. According to the FBI, this software is highly sophisticated. The malware can disguise unapproved payments that are made making an individual think that everything is normal by keeping track of account balances and automatically correcting the numbers on the balances to hide its tracks. “People need to be aware of this dangerous malware. It not only can hide its tracks, but also once installed on a computer, this software has the ability to evade anti-virus software,” Johnson stated. According to the The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Gameover Zeus infects a user’s machine when they open a PDF or click on a link sent to them in an email. An international police effort led by the FBI and security giant Symantec was able to shut down the malicious software this week, but officials with the FBI are still warning users to take steps to protect their systems. The FBI is reporting that users have two weeks to clean up their hard drives and install anti-virus software before the Russian-led band of hackers responsible for Gameover Zeus will be able to make their network operational again. According to officials with the FBI, this malware has been so difficult to shut down because it uses peer-to-peer software, meaning that even if the main server is shut down, infected computers can continue to communicate with one another and continue operating. The Crytolocker software, thought to be linked to Gameover Zeus, is also affecting thousands of Americans and businesses nationwide. According to the FBI, this malware often comes into effect if the user is not a ‘viable’ victim for Gameover Zeus and the network cannot access their financial details. “Crytolocker locks your computer, encrypts files and demands a ransom for them to be unlocked,” Johnson explained. DHS has set up a website to help victims remove the malware, www.us-cert.gov/gameoverzeus. From that website, computer users can download tailored anti-virus software which has been provided for free. Experts have also warned users to back-up all valuable data and to ensure that all operating systems have the latest updates installed. Many of those whose computers have … Continue Reading →

Supervisor Johnson Re-Elected as Co-Chair of Az/Utah Economic Coalition

St. George, Utah – Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson met with members of the Arizona/Utah Local Economic Coalition on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, to receive an update on the uranium mining withdrawal lawsuit and to elect new chairmen. During the biannual meeting, Supervisor Johnson along with Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner were re-elected as co-chairs of the coalition. “I appreciate the confidence the counties have in me and Commissioner Gardner,” Supervisor Johnson stated. According to Johnson, the coalition was formed in 2011 between Mohave County and several Utah Counties and cities to further the economic benefit of uranium mining. During the meeting, members were updated on the uranium mining withdrawal status by Pam Hill from the American Clean Energy Resources Trust (ACERT). Mohave County along with Quaterra Alaska, Inc. filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the U.S. Department of the Interior, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and BLM Director Robert Abbey over the decision to withdraw over 1 million acres of public lands and National Forest System lands in Mohave County and Coconino County near the Arizona Strip area. According to a report done by ACRET, future uranium mining claims could have an economic impact of roughly $29 billion for Mohave County and the surrounding Utah counties. According to Johnson, in 1951 uranium was originally discovered at the Orphan (Cu) Mine from patented claims that President Roosevelt signed in 1903. “The Orphan Mine, so far, has been of the highest grade and most profitable in the U.S.,” Johnson stated. “By restricting future mining claims in the area, Mohave County residents are losing out on over 1,000 new jobs being created as well as over a $40 million year payroll,” Johnson continued. A presentation was also given during the meeting by Attorney Connie Brooks on the legal status of uranium mining cases. According to Johnson, Quaterra Alaska, Inc. partnered with the county in their lawsuit in order to argue that they not only suffered economic damages from the mining ban, but also that the BLM didn’t follow the federal government’s National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act when it produced the report. “This withdrawal is taking away our land and our economic future. The Secretary of the Interior does not have the authority to do these things. This kind of taking of land, power and oversight from states, counties and legal investors can only be accomplished through an act of Congress,” Johnson stated. The members of the Arizona/Utah Local Economic Coalition are Mohave, Kane, San Juan, and Washington Counties and the town of Fredonia. ###

As U.S. is Poised to be Knocked Off as World’s Richest Economy, Federal Government Sits on Its Uranium

Lake Havasu City, AZ – New figures released by the World Bank’s International Comparison Program predict that by the end of 2014 the Chinese purchasing power will surpass that of America.  According to Supervisor Buster Johnson, the restrictions imposed by the federal government when it comes to access to mining of our natural resources is one of the main reasons the U.S. is poised to be knocked off as the world’s richest economy after holding the position for 142 years.  “In the northern strip area of Mohave County, the government created the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument closing off access to over 1 million acres of public land that could have been used for mining clean coal and natural gas reserves.  The federal government again in 2009 shut off more economic development for Mohave County taxpayers when they broke their 1984 agreement and shut us off from 28 billion dollars in economic development by restricting us from mining the richest deposits of uranium in the country,” Johnson explained.   According to the Comparison Program’s figures, based on 2011 prices, the purchasing power of the U.S. Yuan will surpass that of the U.S. dollar in 2014 despite China’s economy being just 60 percent the size of America’s at market exchange rates.  “Our nation is rich in natural resources which, if safely recovered, would not only employ our people and bring back prosperity but could make us self-reliant again.  Yet the federal government keeps putting up road blocks and dragging their feet on major projects, like the keystone pipeline, that if approved could bring economic growth to our country for years to come,” Supervisor Johnson stated.   Johnson has been questioning what the answer from our federal government is on the issue, and from what he sees it’s more regulations and taxes on the American people.  “Road infrastructure is in desperate need in this country.  The federal government’s answer to the problem is a bill that would allow all states to place toll booths on our former “free” ways,” Johnson explained.  “America was built on dreams becoming reality and on dreamers being rewarded for their hard effort.  By enforcing more restrictions and expenses on the American people, it is inevitable that other countries will surpass us in wealth,” Johnson ended. ###

House Bill 2625 Asks for More Taxpayer Money to be Added to Fines

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to make the public aware of a proposed piece of legislation known as HB2625 which adds another tax on our already overburdened taxpayers. This proposed legislation made it through the House without any opposition or without one “no” vote and has been passed to the Senate. This “fee” will be added to an already over bloated additional fee schedule on “every fine, penalty and forfeiture imposed and collected by the courts for criminal offenses and any civil penalty imposed and collected for a civil traffic violation and fine, penalty or forfeiture for a violation of the motor vehicle statutes, for any local ordinance relating to the stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle for a violation of the game and fish statutes in Title 17”. “It used to be you received a ticket for $65.50 and $65.50 was all you paid. Now if you get a ticket for $250 the additional fees are $243 and it goes up. One of the DUI fees is $4,623 plus the cost of the ticket. Once again, the government has found a way to take monies from you and put the funds to work for other causes” stated Supervisor Johnson. Just a few of the more than 50 allowable fees are medical services enhancement, clean elections, elected officials retirement, law library and law library improvement. This proposed Victims’ Rights Enforcement Fund would add to the two fees already assessed for victims’ rights and victims’ assistance. “In FY13, Supervisor Johnson stated, “over $20 million was collected from taxpayers in 4 categories of additional fees alone.” All of these assessments fall under the category of a “sin tax” and by saying it is for a good cause doesn’t make it right. “I believe individuals should be able to choose the charities and candidates they wish to support,” Johnson stated. “It is not up to the government to decide who you are going to contribute to” Johnson added. ###

New Tech Support Scams Attacking Netflix & Gmail Users

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to make the public aware of a new growing trend that has been surfacing more frequently on the internet. “Tech support scams from the outside may look very legit. With these scams, individuals claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Google and Netflix,” Supervisor Johnson stated. In the past few days users of both Netflix and Gmail have reported their accounts being hacked with this particular type of scam. “Tech support scams first surfaced in 2008 and have become one of the most popular types of phishing attacks on the internet today. With over 40 million Netflix users and over 140 million Gmail accounts worldwide, hackers have moved on from attacking small, not well known websites to largely populist ones,” Johnson continued. When it comes to tech support scams like the recent ones reported by Netflix users, individuals are informed that unusual activity has been detected on their account and asked to a call a support line. While users believe they are calling the real support line for Netflix, what they are really calling is a 1-800 number that directs them to a call center in India where hackers are trained to trick users into giving them access to their computer by downloading software aimed at getting rid of the virus they claim has attacked one’s computer system. The scammers will not only steal sensitive files from their computer, but swindle them out of $400 to “fix” the hacking problem. “Our personal computers are becoming the storing house of all our sensitive information. Individuals now a day store mostly everything on their personal computer from banking information to copies of tax returns that contain one’s social security number,” Johnson said. “It is important folks are aware of these types of scams so they don’t fall victim to them,” Johnson continued. If confronted with a similar message when trying to log into one’s Gmail or Netflix account, both companies are urging users to check the web address. In the case of Netflix the user was actually redirected to a website url of www.netflix.afta3.com. If one feels they may have already become victim of such a scam, the following steps should be taken: • Revoke remote access by shutting down your computer. That should cut the remote session and kick them out of your PC. • Scan your computer for malware. The miscreants may have installed password stealers or other Trojans to capture your keystrokes. Use a program such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to quickly identify and remove threats. • Change all your passwords ###

Polio-Like Illness Hits Neighboring State

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to make the public aware of a severe polio-like illness that has affected at least twenty-five children in California aged two to sixteen. “I have had several individuals inquire if Mohave County has seen any similar cases,” Supervisor Johnson stated. According to Mohave County Public Health Director Patty Mead, Mohave County has so far seen nothing similar to what those in California have experienced. Officials with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have confirmed that these cases are not polio. All twenty-five children had received the polio vaccination prior to experiencing any symptoms. In all cases, each child suffered some sort of paralysis that affected one or more of their limbs along with respiratory difficulties. Five of the cases have received a thorough examination whereas the other 15-20 have not received a full workup to isolate a cause. Of those five cases, two of the effected children had enterovirus-68 isolated as a possible culprit whereas the other three did not. CDPH officials are stating that these cases may be a non-polio enterovirus, but more investigation is necessary. The CDPH advises that the best way to prevent the spread of any enterovirus is through hand washing and keeping sick children away from others. The Arizona Department of Health Services has not identified any cases in Arizona, but is on heightened alert for reports of unidentified child paralysis and continues to monitor the situation. Supervisor Johnson advises those who may have experienced a situation like this or know someone who has to contact the Mohave County Public Health Department at 928-753-0743. ###

New Prescription Discount Drug Card Saving County Residents Money

Lake Havasu City, AZ –Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to share with the public the latest figures compiled by Mohave County’s Human Resource Department in regards to the county’s new prescription discount drug program. The National Association of Counties (NACo) Prescription Discount Drug Program was first made available for use by all Mohave County residents just last month. “Since that time participants of the program have saved on average 21.4% on their prescription drugs,” Supervisor Johnson stated. According to the figures, a total of 10 county residents utilized the program during the month of January saving them over $300 on their prescriptions with an average savings of $18.39 per prescription. “This program is a great benefit for residents, and I hope to see more take advantage of it in the future,” Johnson stated. Of the ten participants, a total of 18 prescriptions were submitted through the card with 15 of them seeing a larger discount with NACo’s discount program than with the discount programs offered through pharmacies such as Walgreens. As an example Johnson explained, “A resident without the NACo card would have paid on average $85.92 for a specific prescription. With the NACo card, on average they only ended up paying $67.52,” Johnson explained. The Prescription Discount Drug Program is put on by NACo at no cost to the counties or participants of the program. It can be used by all county residents regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use. The card is accepted at most major retail pharmacies, including CVS. For those interested in a free card, one can be obtained at County Supervisor Buster Johnson’s office located at 2001 College Drive or online at: http://www.nacorx.org/ ###

Johnson Concerned About Security on New Internet Ready Appliances

Lake Havasu City, AZ – In what is being called the new Internet of Things (IoT) market, consumers are seeing new internet ready appliances coming out from different manufactures at an extremely fast pace. The International Data Corporation (IDC) expects IoT technology and services spending to generate global revenues of $8.9 trillion by 2020. Supervisor Buster Johnson is concerned that this new technology may lead to more cyber security breaches. “This is getting a little scary with all the things that are becoming subject to hacking,” Supervisor Johnson stated. Johnson, who is one of the First Vice Presidents of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Cyber Security Task Force, has seen the IoT market take off over the past five years with the invention of products such as the Nest and Kwikset’s new Kevo product. “This new technology is going to change our everyday lives. With technology that will let us unlock our front door with our cell phone to refrigerators that keep track of inventory, someday soon nearly every appliance in our homes will come equipped with a computer chip. This new technology may be more convenient but at the same time it leaves us all vulnerable to cyber-attacks,” Johnson explained. The first major cyber-attack to be reported on internet ready appliances occurred late last year. According to researchers at Proofpoint, a provider of cloud-based solutions for threat protection, hackers broke into more than 100,000 everyday consumer gadgets between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014, such as home networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions, and at least one refrigerator. “Hackers are using these connected appliances as a new way to send malicious emails to enterprises and individuals worldwide,” Johnson stated. One of the newest IoT gadgets on the market today is Kwikset’s new Kevo bluetooth electronic deadbolt lock that can open one’s front door by using an app on the user’s iPhone. “You use to know when someone broke into your home because they would usually kick in the door. With this new technology, an intruder could be in your home and you may never know,” Johnson ended. ###