RI Labor and Training Hit By Flood, Unveils RI’s Technology Vulnerability

Sunday, January 14, 2018


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At about 10:30 am on Saturday, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training announced that the computer system was impacted by an overnight flood.

After numerous emails to DLT and Brenna McCabe of the RI Department of Administration it was finally unveiled by representatives of Governor Gina Raimondo’s administration that critical state data is not stored in a cloud structure, but in fact, is stored on-site servers.

“While the state continues to upgrade its IT systems to modern, cloud-based environments over time, there are numerous legacy systems that still exist. The Department of Labor & Training IT system is one of those legacy systems. We continue to evaluate all options for hosting, management and disaster recovery to ensure cost-efficient, safe and secure protection of the state’s data," said McCabe.

The disclosure unveils that Rhode Island is operating an outdated and highly vulnerable technology infrastructure in many agencies.

DLT Knocked Offline

“Flooding from the overnight storm has put key customer-facing websites — including the Teleserve system that provides telephone and Internet access to Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims — temporarily offline," the RI Department of Labor and Training (DLT) announced Saturday, a little after 10:30 am.

"At about 1:30 AM [on Friday evening], rainwater seeped into DLT’s data center at 1511 Pontiac Avenue in Cranston, powering off computer systems automatically. The state Department of Administration is working with DLT to assess the full impact and restore power as soon as possible,’ said the agency.

According to multiple sources, DLT officials were panicked that critical data was lost. The backup protocols are outdated and incomplete.

For hours after the detection of the failure state officials refused to answer if all data had been backed up and when the last backup was completed.

By 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, DLT officials notified the media that the power had been restored.

Technology Failures

The failure of the near $500 million UHIP technology infrastructure has been so severe that the federal court intervened after more than a year of controversies. Now, special master Deming Sherman has been assigned to analyze and then report on recommendations on how to correct the failed system.

Initial efforts to complete upgrade the Department of Motor Vehicles led to multiple lawsuits between the state and the vendor — contractor Hewlett Packard Enterprise (now DXC Technology).

In April of 2017, Rhode Island’s 911 system failed and the backup tech structure failed to properly deploy. “There were 125 calls while the system was malfunctioning. Many of these were duplicate calls, from people calling more than once. There were 98 calls for service. At this time, the Department of Public Safety is not aware of any serious complications resulting from a delay in receiving emergency services. However, DPS officials acknowledge that any delay in a call for help is unacceptable,” said the RI State Police.


Related Slideshow: UHIP Assessment Report to Governor Raimondo


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